The Philadelphia 76ers jumped out to an early lead Monday night against the division-leading Pacers, only to watch themselves lose that lead and their 21st straight game this season, setting a new franchise record for consecutive loses.
For all of their current woes, things are not quite so bleak for the 76ers. Their first round pick Michael Carter Williams is shaping up to be one of the best players from his draft class and they are still playing without their much buzzed about acquisition Nerlens Noel. Couple those two talents, if Noel pans out the way Williams has, with high picks in this year’s upcoming draft, a draft which some say could be the best for some time, and Philadelphia might have a fair amount of sparkle in their silver lining.
Of course, it is hard to look too hopefully into the future when your team is on pace to set the NBA’s longest losing streak. Currently that streak is held by the Cleveland Cavaliers who lost 26 straight during the 2010-2011 season. Incidentally, Cleveland also holds the second longest losing streak, having lost 24 straight over two seasons between 1981 and 1983.
Philadelphia rounded up an early lead by making 3 of their first 4 three-point attempts. They shot 6 of 9 overall in the quarter and were up 15-6. They also buckled down on the defensive end holding the Pacers to 3 of 9 shooting from the field.
The Pacers ended the first quarter on a 15-9 run however that put the game within three points. After the game Pacer’s star Paul George said that teams like the Sixers, “are the ones that pose the biggest threat, because for us, we’ve got to get motivated. All these games are huge for us because every game counts.” The Pacers currently hold the best record in the Eastern Conference, ahead of Miami by two games in the loss column. They are also only a half of a game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the NBA.
After his team’s record-setting loss, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that, referring to the streak his team is on, “it’s hard because of a competitive thing, but in relation to worrying about a record, we don’t live in that world.” He also added that he does not mention the streak in the locker room although it is impossible to not be aware of it.
The last Sixers team to lose 20 straight was the 1972-73 team who finished the season 9-73. This year’s Sixers team does have 15 wins under their belt and are not even the worst team (by record) in the sluggish Eastern Conference. That dubious distinction belongs to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Paul George and Lance Stephenson combined for 49 points as the Pacers came back from an early deficit. Michael Carter-Williams continued to look impressive for the Sixers with 15 points and 13 rebounds. The next chance for the Sixers to end the streak will come Wednesday night when they host the Chicago Bulls in Philadelphia, another above .500 team for the faltering Sixers to battle.
Commentary by Nick Manai