Five games to watch as 76ers start season’s second half

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The second half of the season officially gets underway for the 76ers Friday night when the Indiana Pacers visit the Wells Fargo Center.

After an 0-17 start, the Sixers rallied nicely to win 12 games. Now, 12-41 isn’t exactly a stirring accomplishment.

But with this group, it’s impressive.

Coach Brett Brown continues to mold the youngest collective roster in NBA history. And he’s done an outstanding job.

With 29 games remaining before fans anxiously anticipate the lottery and draft, let’s identify five home games to watch between now and the end of the regular season.

Friday, Feb. 27 vs. Washington

The up-and-coming Wizards feature a stellar backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. While Beal is nicked up, this is still one of the most dangerous backcourts in the league. It should give the Sixers hope down the road since they’re grooming young players at every position. It took Wall and Beal a little time to click. When they’re healthy, it’s fun to watch.

Monday, March 2 vs. Toronto

First-time All-Star Kyle Lowry, a former standout at Villanova, was scintillating the last time the Raptors were in town. He scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and literally carried the Raptors to a victory. Like the Wizards, the Raptors have a young team. They’ve gotten better every season and they’re in the mix for a high playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

Saturday, March 7 vs. Atlanta

The Hawks had four players in the All-Star Game including former Sixer Kyle Korver. Atlanta is one of the biggest surprises in the league and could even compete for a championship. The Hawks simply refuse to get fazed by anything, probably because they’re coached by Mike Budenholzer, a former assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. Brown and Budenholzer coached together under Popovich.

Friday, March 27 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Blake Griffin has been injured but this team is always dangerous. Coach Doc Rivers is among the top coaches in the business and DeAndre Jordan is emerging as a 20-20 player. Jordan swept 27 rebounds in one game. Point guard Chris Paul clearly misses Griffin, but this team still features a plethora of talent.

Wednesday, April 15 vs. Miami

It’s the final game of the season and the Sixers are sure to take a long look at their bench. This will mark the second season under Brown and big changes will be anticipated in 2015-16. Minus LeBron James, the Heat aren’t as big a draw. The Sixers’ players will be auditioning for everyone. So that is a big deal.

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