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  • Having gone 4-2 over their last six games, the Sixers have sliced halfway into what was a six-game lead for the Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Tonight’s game will mean the difference between being either two games or four games being Milwaukee heading into the all-star break. “That’s real big,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “This is a two-game swing, so obviously it’s very big.”
  • Collins was asked if he offered any advice to point guard Jrue Holiday, who will be playing in his first All-Star Game this weekend in Houston. “To me, I compare it to when you go out and play a beautiful golf course,” Collins said. “When you’re playing Pebble Beach do you look around and play Pebble Beach or are you worried about hitting eight balls in the water? I think when you go, enjoy everything about it. Take the time, look around, enjoy the surroundings, look in the locker room — a dream fulfilled in a lot of ways. Look who’s in that locker room and how you’ve watched these players play throughout the years and now you’re one of their peers. Enjoy every moment. If you can, sit around some of those guys, talk to them, pick their brains. Watch how they prepare and get themselves ready. Take it all in. The most important thing is enjoy the experience.”
  • The Bucks will be without center Larry Sanders for the fourth straight game because of a bruised back. That’s not what they were hoping for as they enter with a four-game losing streak and having lost six of seven. Sanders leads the league in blocked shots, and in their four-game skid the Bucks have allowed 104.8 points a game. “We miss him,” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. “We miss him dearly.” Sanders went for more tests, but the Bucks are awaiting results from those tests.
  •  Boylan said the game has great importance as the Bucks hit the all-star break. Entering on a five-game losing streak and a 1-7 tailspin could make the break a time for fretting rather than a time for rest. “It’s big on a lot of different levels,” Boylan said. “Obviously you want to get back on a winning way. Then you’re playing a team behind you, and it gives us the tie-breaker (if we win). You can either go into the break up four games or up two games. So it makes a huge difference.
  • Forward Thaddeus Young will miss his fourth straight game for the Sixers with a strained left hamstring.

Rick Braun

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