Now that their miraculous season-beginning three-game winning streak has come to an end in thudding fashion, we should be able to get back to our normal ways of expecting the worst from this Philadelphia 76ers team at just about every opportunity. Their first opportunity to once again live down to expectations comes tonight against the Washington Wizards, already in their second matchup this year, with the Sixers taking the surprise 109-102 victory five days ago in Washington.
While the Sixers have already exceeded fan hopes for their entire season in the space of three games, the Wizards are in the unfortunate spot of their results thusfar being well, well below expectation, as their franchise and its young core was expected to take the next step towards playoff contention this season, but has instead started 0-3, with injuries (veteran bigs Emeka Okafor and Nene, highly touted rookie forward Otto Porter) and a surprise pre-season deal many dubbed a panic trade (swapping the expiring contract of the injured Okafor with a future draft pick for offensive-minded center Marcin Gortat) further adding to the team's desperation.
If the Sixers win tonight, bringing the Washington record to 0-4, it could be a fairly deadly blow to the team's post-season aspirations, even this early on. After Philly, Washington has the championship-aspirant Nets at home, then goes on a three-game West Coast swing against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs (combined record: 8-3). It's been suggested that if the Wizards lose tonight, Washington coach Randy Wittman might not survive the trip out West.
As in the teams' matchup last week the question for this game is two-fold: Can we contain their explosive young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, and can their depleted frontlines handle the post play of our Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes? The answers last week were both "Yes for one half, no for the other," with Thad and Spence just getting the last word, but tonight, in a do-or-die matchup with the Sixers' momentum finally slowed a little, it'll be tough to get the edge a second time.
7:00 tip from the WFC. Will the tanking officially commence tonight, or is this team not done playing over their heads? Do we even know which one we're rooting for? Guess we'll find out tonight.