The Philadelphia 76ers are off to a historically bad start, losing all 17 games that they have played so far this season. Now, they have one more chance at Minnesota on Wednesday to avoid tying the all-time worst start in NBA history, which presently stands at 0-18. That mark was set by the New Jersey Nets in the 2009-10 season. If the Sixers fail to win the game against the Timberwolves, they will then have one more chance against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday evening to avoid establishing a new record for futility with the worst start in NBA history.
San Antonio were the latest team to beat Philadelphia. Even without injured stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, the defending champions were still able to reel off an impressive win. Kawhi Leonard had a particularly memorable game for the Spurs, scoring 26 points, with 10 rebounds and 4 assists, and he managed to finish a key three-point play in the game’s final minute to ice the victory for San Antonio. Despite this loss adding to the Sixers many woes so far this season, Spurs head coach Greg Popavich praised the 76ers for their effort in this game, saying that it was amazing and indicative of the team’s character that they came out and threw everything that they had at the Spurs.
They were one of the worst teams in the league last season as well, going 19-63 on the season, and enduring an epic 26-game losing streak. That was a pretty abysmal season, yet the 76ers this season have gotten off to such a historically bad bad start to this point so far, that it may leave 76ers fans longing for those days last season when the team nonetheless actually won some games on occasion. So far this season, that simply has not happened yet, and the team became just the fourth in NBA history to start the season with an 0-17 record. To put the extent of the losing in perspective, the 76ers have won a total of 7 games in their last 66 games dating back to last season. By contrast, the Philadelphia Eagles, who as an NFL football team play far fewer games than NBA teams, right now have more wins in the 11 games that they have played so far this season.
Philadelphia has already matched the 1988-89 Miami Heat and the 1999 Los Angeles Clippers for second worst start in league history, and are a game away from tying the 2009-10 Nets for the dubious distinction of having the worst start in history. Those Nets lost by an average of just over 11 points per game, while the Heat lost by an average of 14.7 points, and the Clippers lost by an average of 13.4 points. The Sixers have been blown out a few times, including an epic 53-point loss in Dallas. On average in the 17 games that they have played thus far, they score 91.5 points per game, and allow a staggering 105.9 points per game, which gives them an average margin of loss of 14.4 points per game.
The 76ers are off to a historically bad start, and it could still get worse. There is a feeling that the longer it takes for them to get this particular monkey off of their back, it will only get more difficult to finally win a game and finally manage to snap this massive losing streak. Some have already made the suggestion that they would lose to college basketball’s top team, Kentucky. It may be a valid question, but players on professional teams, be they good or bad teams, tend to have ranked among the very cream of the crop in their college careers, and they have also adapted to the highly competitive spirit and speed of the pro game. That makes it unlikely that Kentucky, which has beaten up on a lot of far weaker teams, would actually be able to defeat this year’s Philadelphia 76ers. Yet, it is saying something about where the Sixers are at the moment that people believe that this team is so bad that it warrants such a discussion.
By Charles Bordeau
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Photo by Keith Allison –Flickr