4-3. Not bad for a seven-game death stretch, though not necessarily as
decisive as we would've hoped when the Sixers started the stretch 4-1.
Back-to-back tough losses against the Spurs and Clippers—one in which
the Sixers got legitimately outplayed, and one in which a bunch of crap
went wrong for both teams and the Sixers lost because Chris Paul might
be the deadliest player in the game with less than a minute left in
regulalation—make the seven-game set a slightly mixed bag, though on the
whole, you'd probably still have to consider it a victory for Philly.
They're still 18-9, third-best in the East—and tonight, they get to play
their first creampuff match in two weeks with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
All right, "creampuff" might be going a bit far. The Cavs are actually
having a surprisingly acceptable season this year, just two-and-a-half
games out of the playoffs with their 10-15 record, and just a couple
nights ago they even beat the Clippers, which by some transitive
mathematical properties might make them a better team than the Sixers,
technically. Of course, they've also lost to the Raptors, Warriors and
Nets, and they'll be missing both their likely Rookie of the Year point
guard Kyrie Irving and their MVP of the last few weeks, hustling big man
Anderson Varejao. After going against Tony Parker & Tim Duncan and
Chris Paul & Blake Griffin, somehow I doubt the Sixers are
particularly sweating Ramon Sessions & Antawn Jamison.
Nonetheless, the Sixers are somewhat untested on the road this year—5-4,
against 13-5 at home—and the post-LeBron Cavs took two games against
the Sixers last year, including one in Cleveland. With the Sixers
finally looking to spend some time away from the Wells Fargo Center—they
play seven of their next eight games on the road, after playing 17 of
22 at home—a decisive win against Cleveland would obviously be a great
way to kick off the next leg of the Sixers' season. (Hopefully this will
also be a chance for young bigs Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen to put
up some numbers after getting shut down by the San Antonio and LA front
lines, while perhaps Coach Collins won't be as stingy as he has been
lately with Evan Turner's minutes.)
7:30 tip from Quicken Loans Arena. The loss to the Clips was the Sixers'
second in a row, their first losing streak longer than a game of the
entire season. Impressive that they held out this long, but neither we
nor the team want to see it happen again anytime soon—or worse, continue
tonight. “It’s disappointing to lose two straight at home," said Elton
Brand after the loss. “We’ve got to regroup, go on the road and keep
growing.” See you there, EB.