During the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers had two separate identities. When playing at home in front of thousands of Sixers fans, they were one of the most dominant teams in the league. When the season wrapped up, the Sixers finished with a league's best 31-4 record at home.
When it came to playing away from South Philly, though, the 76ers were a completely different squad. With a 12-26 road record, the 76ers had the worst record away from home out of any playoff team in the NBA.
And when it came to playing in the postseason in neutral territory, the Sixers failed to pick up a single win in the NBA playoffs, resulting in them getting swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics. Shortly after, the Sixers realized a significant change was needed. So, front office, coaching staff, and personnel changes were on the horizon.
When Doc Rivers took on the Sixers' coaching job in 2020-2021, he was well-aware of the team's road struggles from last season. Coming into the new year, Rivers made it a priority to help the 76ers become a better team away from home. Although it wasn't easy, the Sixers currently possess the best road record in the Eastern Conference with just six games left to go in the regular season.
On Wednesday night, the Sixers picked up their 20th win of the season away from home. By defeating the Houston Rockets, Philly has an away record of 20-14 while they sit atop the Eastern Conference with playoffs approaching.
While Rivers wasn't entirely satisfied with his team's overall performance on Wednesday as he thought they could've done better defensively against a depleted Houston team, the head coach can hardly complain considering the circumstances.
“Overall, we’ll take the win," Rivers said after the game. "Last year, we were dying for a road win. Now we just won three in a row in a row, so we’ll take them.” Rivers might not have had anything to do with the Sixers' struggles on the road last season as he was coaching the Los Angeles Clippers, but he made it clear that he approached the season with those struggles in mind.
"I mean, I'm part of the team now," Rivers continued. "That was one of the things we talked about -- we have to win on the road. So, we're doing it, but we gotta keep doing it now." With just two road games left on the schedule, the Sixers are officially locked into a winning road record. While the ultimate goal during this regular season is to lock in the first seed, the Sixers can feel accomplished knowing they made major improvements in a critical area, which they struggled in last year.