Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown acknowledged that after he told his players and the media before the season began that the goal was to make the playoffs, it "wasn't well received" by many in the cautious front office.
Turns out, Brown had the pulse of The Process. Not only are the Sixers headed to the postseason, they're poised to make some noise.
JJ Redick scored 18 points, and the surging 76ers matched a franchise record with their 14th consecutive victory, 109-97 over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Ben Simmons added 16 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, and Robert Covington had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Two years after going 10-72, the Sixers (50-30) clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and secured their first 50-win season since Allen Iverson's 2000-01 team, which lost in the Finals.
"In our profession, Brett has become a legend," said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, whose team has begun its own rebuild. "He's just been unshakable as a leader and as a guy that's always pushed his teams to always play at their highest capacity in terms of energy and effort.
"And as this thing has gone along, in the fourth or fifth year, they've built up the guys that they like and they've gotten rid of a lot of other guys that weren't quite good enough. They've added a few veterans and they've done a great job with the draft."
The only other time the Sixers won 14 straight in a single season, Dr. J and Moses Malone delivered Philadelphia its last NBA title in 1983.
"I wouldn't want to play these guys in the first round with them having home-court," Carlisle said. "Not in this place."
Harrison Barnes scored 21 points on 9-of-25 shooting, and Dennis Smith Jr. added 20 points for the Mavericks, who have lost three straight and six of seven.
at Raptors 112, Magic 101: C.J. Miles scored 22 points, OG Anunoby had a career-high 21 for Toronto.
Serge Ibaka scored 13 points, and Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright each had 12. The Raptors closed out their home schedule by extending their franchise records for wins (58) and home wins (34).
After clinching the top spot in the Eastern Conference on Friday night with a win over Indiana, the Raptors gave guard DeMar DeRozan and center Jonas Valanciunas the night off. Toronto will rest players again Monday night at Detroit, then return to full strength Wednesday night for the regular-season finale at Miami.
Aaron Gordon scored 16 points, and Mario Hezonja had 14 for Orlando. The Magic lost for the eighth time in 11 games.
Warriors 117, at Suns 100: Klay Thompson scored 22 of his 34 points in the first quarter on Sunday night in the final home game of the Suns' awful season.
Kevin Durant added 17 points and nine assists for the Warriors.
With the loss, and Memphis' win over Detroit, Phoenix — at 20-61 — is assured the worst record in the NBA and, consequently, the most ping pong balls in the May 15 draft lottery.
Danuel House scored a career-high 22 for Phoenix. Alex Len added 16 points and 10 rebounds, Dragan Bender 14 points and 14 boards, and Tyler Ulis 15 points and 10 assists.
Indiana 123, at Charlotte 117: Domantas Sabonis scored a career-high 30 points, Victor Oladipo had 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting and the Pacers beat the Hornets to keep alive their slim hopes of winning the Central Division title.
Lance Stephenson had 10 rebounds, 10 assists and eight points for the Pacers, who have won seven of their last nine games. Rookie Malik Monk led the Hornets with 22 points in their final home game of the season.
Atlanta 112, at Boston 106: Taurean Prince scored 33 points, and the Hawks rallied for the road win. Isaiah Taylor and Dewayne Dedmon scored nine straight points for the Hawks after they trailed 103-101 with two minutes left.
With the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference already locked up, Celtics coach Brad Stevens left Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier on the bench for the entire fourth quarter.
Rozier had 10 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for Boston, which had beaten Atlanta in the other three meetings this season. Tatum scored 19, Horford had 16 and Greg Monroe scored 17 as the Celtics lost for the third time in four games.
at Grizzlies 130, Pistons 117: MarShon Brooks scored 25 points, Dillon Brooks added 22 and Memphis beat Detroit to snap a four-game losing streak.