Perhaps the first truly surprising loss of the Sixers' 2011 calendar
year—not just in who they lost to, but in the incredible magnitude of
the throttling—was their blowout loss three weeks ago to the Milwaukee
Bucks. Blame it on a lack of energy and focus after playing four games
in six days, but the boys were absolutely punked by a scrappy Bucks
squad looking to make a late push for the post-season. It was a
worrisome performance, to say the least, but aside from a late-game
meltdown in Utah the next night and a game-long no-show against the
Kings last Sunday, the team has gotten easily back on track, and as of
last night's beatdown of the Nets, are post-season bound for the third
time in four seasons.
Meanwhile, the Bucks have gone the other way with their season,
losing 7 of their last 11 after the victory against Philadelphia.
Now, with a 30-45 record that sees them four games behind even
the recently-woeful Pacers for the eighth seed in the Eastern
Conference, Milwaukee is all but eliminated from post-season
contention—a disappointing year of basketball for a team who was the #5
seed in the East playoffs last year, and added pieces in the off-season
that they thought might allow them to be competitive with the
conference's big guns.
No matter, though—this is a Philly sports blog, and in
Philadelphia, the news is good. With their 40-36 record, the team is but
two wins away from officially securing the first winning record the
franchise has seen since '04-'05—a modest achievement to be certain, but
one not too many of us were optimistic about reaching in October and
November. The Sixers seem a fairy decent bet to be the #6 seed this year
in the post-season, but with the Knicks having won two in a row
themselves and with another game against Philly before all is said and
done, the Sixers need to stay on their game to keep New York from
closing the 2.5-game gap behind them. (Not that it really matters all
that much, though—the Celtics and Heat toggle the two and three seeds
seemingly every night, and our chances aren't great against either
8:30 tip-off from the Bradley Center. “Now, the fun starts,” said
Elton Brand of securing his trip to the post-season for the first time
as a Sixer, and just the second time in his 12-year NBA career. "Let’s
see how good we can be." Yes let's, EB.
If you watched Monday night's Phillies loss at the hands of the Colorado Rockies, you probably weren't very entertained -- unless you're a Rockies fan.
But if you followed the game on Twitter and happen to follow the Rockies' account, you may have been slightly more entertained.
They tried something we haven't seen from an opposing team just yet. They tweeted throughout the game using only quotes from the Rocky movie franchise.
Now, you can debate how successful of a move this was but you have to at least give them some points for creativity. And it's not like this was a playoff game with high stakes. This was a relatively boring Monday night game in the middle of May.
You can read our recap of the Phillies' 8-1 loss right here. Or here's how the night transpired on Twitter:
All week on Philly Sports Talk on CSN, we examine how our teams got to this point and where they are in the rebuilding process.
On Tuesday, Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato takes a look at the state of the Sixers.
How did we get here?
By now, you all know about “The Process.” The Sixers last competitive season was five years ago when they reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2012. They began dismantling that group, and the following year, went 34-48 under Doug Collins.
The Sixers then entered a three-year period of dismal basketball with a revolving door of players coached by Brett Brown that culminated in a 47-199 record. During that time, they stockpiled injured players, draft-and-stash prospects and a handful of future picks through transactions made by then-general manager Sam Hinkie.
Hinkie stepped down from his role with a memorable 13-page resignation letter last April. The Sixers hired Bryan Colangelo as president of basketball operations, marking a new chapter in the organization.
The 2016-17 season was the first glimpse into the potential of “The Process.” They finished 28-54, including a 10-5 month of January. Joel Embiid made his NBA debut after two years. While he was limited to 31 games because of (another) injury, he quickly proved he can dominate when healthy. Dario Saric came to the NBA two years after being drafted in 2014 and emerged as a Rookie-of-the-Year candidate after Embiid was shut down for the season. The Sixers landed the number one pick in the 2016 draft and are waiting on the debut of Ben Simmons, who suffered a Jones fracture in training camp. This season, the Sixers established legitimate pieces for their future, rather than players who could be on the summer league team.
Are the Sixers on the right path back to prosperity?
The Sixers are on the right path back to prosperity, and it starts this offseason. They have the third pick in the 2017 draft, with the possibilities of adding another young talent or packaging the pick to land a more established player. The Sixers have flexibility with plenty of cap space — which they could use to acquire a key free agent. The team has maintained they will not rush into making a trade just for the sake of it — Jahlil Okafor’s future with the Sixers is still uncertain — or spending money just because it’s available. The Sixers showed flashes of potential last season. If they gather the right pieces this summer and — a big “and” — they stay healthy, the Sixers will continue to move toward an upward trend of rebuilding with the longer-term goals (this isn't happening overnight) of becoming a contender again.
Coming Wednesday: A look at the Phillies' rebuild