On Wednesday night the Philadelphia 76ers were defeated by the Chicago Bulls 102-94 at Wells Fargo Center, which gives the team their 22nd consecutive loss of the season. The Sixers are four losses shy of matching the NBA record for the longest single-season losing streak. The Cleveland Cavaliers currently own the record with 26 consecutive losses during the 2010-11 season. The Sixers also lost their 17th consecutive home game since beating Charlotte on Jan. 15. They were 8-11 at home at that point and had already defeated the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Houston Rockets in Philadelphia.
It’s still a head-scratcher for 76ers head coach Brett Brown. With a roster with one player over 25 years old and loaded with six rookies (included injured Nerlens Noel), the coach knew going into this season that it would be a trying one, but Brown, the players, nor the fans knew it would get this atrocious.
The defense has been a mystery all season, giving up points at alarming rates, allowing a plethora of three-pointers and struggling to find any sort of identity. The Sixers are now giving up a horrible 29.1 points in the first quarter, digging themselves holes that their inconsistent offense can’t cover.
The offense has been scattered, and Brown is still searching for ways to overcome periods during games when he has to go to his inexperienced and under-talented bench.
“Our team gets its shot blocked a lot,” Brown said. “We have to understand that this mentality that we have, which is priceless, getting to the rim. We had 56 points in the paint. We lead the NBA in getting to the rim. I’m proud of that, we want to continue to attack, but then there comes a point when you have to realize that you’re in traffic, you’re playing in a crowd and you have to kick it. It’s just something we have to continue to improve on. I love the mentality, but we just have to understand it’s the NBA and you’re going into some big men who are athletes.”
Through the first half of the season, Michael Carter-Williams was the best player coming from a weak 2013 rookie class, and has already earned two league Rookie of the Month awards. While his play has dropped off a bit of late, and his jump shot is a weak point that has to be worked on, Carter-Williams still looks like he could develop into one of the league’s best point guards.
Will the constant losing affect his long term growth?
There have been instances where young players enter the league only to land on a team in a losing situation, and they begin to view that as the norm. Sometimes these losing teams are home to veterans who have decided to mail in their performances, sit on the bench, collect a paycheck, or are only concerned with their own statistics. If these players are the role models that a young player has to look up to, it isn’t amazing that they begin to develop similar bad habits.
The Sixers have a veteran leader in Thaddeus Young who appears to be playing hard. The Sixers’ issues seem to be more centered around a lack of top-end players while only possessing a handful of players who legitimately belong on an NBA roster.
Still, when a team is struggling the way the Sixers have, even the best leaders can get a little frustrated. It would only be natural if the players begin to recognize that losing is inevitable, and they begin to lose intensity.
Right now the grim record that the Sixers don’t want to break is before them. Their next game is against the New York Knicks including a three-game road trip to: Chicago, San Antonio, and Houston. The fifth game is against the Detroit Pistons; let’s just hope and pray that all the stars are aligned by that game and Philly gets a “W”.