The Sixers have lost their last two games by a combined 54 points. That seems unfathomable after winning four consecutive games against Western Conference foes, including two with winning records.
So what happened?
Watching the Sixers in Cleveland on Tuesday night, they looked slow as molasses, which is odd for a team rated tops in the NBA in pace.
Brett Brown is experiencing a lot of firsts in his rookie season as a head coach in the NBA. According to Brown, the most recent six-game stretch in which the Sixers won four in a row was the first real road trip for he and his team this season. The trip concluded in Portland with a 101-99 win last Saturday.
The team hopped a plane and flew through the night to land in Philadelphia on Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m.
There is a reason those types of flights are called “red eyes.”
Brown said he did not recognize the team that performed Monday and Tuesday. The Sixers gave up 29 three-pointers combined in the two losses after allowing only 15 total in the three games prior.
Fatigue may have played more of a factor then Brown wanted to admit. Brown always talks about fitness and recovery and both factored into his decision to take a red eye as opposed to sleeping over in Portland and flying all day Sunday.
“People got involved with sleep doctors and tried to figure out the best routine,” Brown said Monday of trying to best bounce back from coast-to-coast travel. “It is always a challenge to try and get it right. We actually explored notes in conjunction with the Eagles, trying to get ideas on the best way to handle it. We could have stayed overnight, had a recovery session in the morning, take a flight at say one o’clock, get back into Philadelphia at 10, cancelled shoot around in the morning and maybe get back on track.
“Or you get back to the time zone you are playing straight away and get a little bit of sleep Sunday. And then you jump back into Monday the way it should be treated. Who knows what’s right? We explored all options and I think the asterisk that we considered a lot was we are on a plane tonight to Cleveland and we have back-to-back.”
The results are what they are -- two uncompetitive losses.
What the Sixers do with a West Coast trip in the future remains to be seen, but these last two games did not sit well with Brown. He is a man who analyzes, discusses and then moves on.
There are no excuses for Friday's home date against Detroit. The Sixers are rested and recovered and jet lag is no longer a factor.