I don’t think the Philadelphia 76ers are going to go 0-36 to end the season. They are going to get one more win.
Most nights they are overmatched — the other team is just more talented. That’s why they lost game 26 in a row Thursday night to the Houston Rockets, 120-98. The Sixers are bad as they rebuild (call it tanking if you want, Adam Silver still calls it rebuilding) and the Rockets are likely the sixth best team in the NBA. Henry Sims tries hard for the Sixers, but he’s not stopping Dwight Howard.
The Sixers now face another problem — teams are up for them. Nobody wants to be the team that lost to the Sixers and ended their streaks. Opponents are focused.
So what game can the Sixers win to break the streak? Here are four real possibilities
Sat. March 29 vs. Detroit Pistons. That’s Philadelphia’s next game and their chance to avoid owning the NBA record for the longest losing streak all by themselves (they are currently tied with the 2011 Cavaliers). On paper the big front line of the Pistons — Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith — should overwhelm Sims and the rest of the Sixers front line, but the Pistons shoot themselves in the foot more than any team in the league. The Pistons come in having lost 9 of their last 11, and they will be on the second night of a back-to-back having to play in Miami Friday night. If an energized Sixers team gets a tired Pistons team where Smith starts jacking up threes and Brandon Jennings tries to play hero ball the Sixers can certainly win.
Fri. April 4, at Boston Celtics. This is one team looking to end up high in the lottery this season, just like the Sixers. As of right now this Celtics team has lost 8-of-9 and are giving young players such as Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk big minutes. The Celtics also start some quality guys — Rajon Rondo is an All-Star, Avery Bradley can play, Jeff Green can be mind blowing when he wants to — but this is another team coasting to the finish line and playing poorly on the defensive end. This is another team the Sixers could steal one against.
Mon. April 14, vs. Boston Celtics. See the comments above, but note the Sixers are at home for this one.
Wed. April 16 at Miami Heat. Yes, against the Heat — this is the final regular season game before the playoffs and coach Erik Spoelstra might well sit LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and anyone else who will matter in the postseason. The Heat will not care about this game at all… but the Sixers might.
When he was starting at power forward next to Dwight Howard last season, Clint Capela looked like he could eventually supplant Howard as the Rockets’ starting center.
It happened this offseason with Howard leaving for the Hawks.
Houston apparently wanted it to happen even sooner.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
Houston Rockets management repeatedly pushed for Clint Capela to get more playing time at the expense of Dwight Howard last season, sources told ESPN, adding to the disharmony that played a prominent role in the team’s disappointing 2015-16 campaign.
Former Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff resisted complying with the wishes of general manager Daryl Morey and owner Leslie Alexander regarding a drastic reduction in Howard’s playing time. Team sources said Alexander never participated in the meetings with Morey and Bickerstaff but fully supported the general manager’s plan to prioritize Capela’s development.
League sources said input from face-of-the-franchise James Harden heavily influenced Houston management’s desire to decrease Howard’s minutes. However, team sources insisted that Harden was not involved in those discussions.
It’s believable Harden conspired against Howard. It’s also believable the Rockets covered for Harden.
Whoever was working against him, Howard clearly understood Houston planned to deemphasize him. Maybe he didn’t always handle that the absolute best way, but to a certain degree, he was just dealing with a difficult reality – one the Rockets should have foreseen.
It’s tough to tell an established star his role is being reduced. It’s far easier to tell a second-year player he must wait his turn. Houston’s management tried to take the harder path – and didn’t even get its own coach to comply, which only muddled the situation further.
The Rockets were coming off a run to the Western Conference finals, and amid so much chaos, still made the playoffs. This was a talented team that came too close to wasting a season due to internal dynamics.
And what does Houston have to show for its Howard plan? The Rockets didn’t trade Howard, didn’t get him to opt in (as they wanted him to do, according to MacMahon) and didn’t re-sign him. Capela will start now, but he’s not substantially more experienced playing center with other starters. Howard is in Atlanta, ready to help another team.
Prolonged breakups just aren’t healthy. Rip off the bandage or leave it on.
Remember Anthony Randolph?
The Warriors drafted him No. 14 in 2008, and he also played for the Knicks, Timberwolves and Nuggets, last appearing in the NBA in 2014.
He still has plenty of athleticism – as he showed playing for Real Madrid. The defender isn’t as tall, but the way Randolph leaps over him is reminiscent of Vince Carter‘s famous dunk on Frederic Weis:
(hat tip: Sportando)
Marreese Speights bluntly assessed Draymond Green, but at least Speights put his name behind his words (at least until implying he was misquoted, to which the writer countered by claiming he had audio).
Someone else in the fantastic profile of Green by Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN never attached his name.
multiple Warriors staffers share the opinion that Green is their most important player. Nobody replicates his set of contributions. As one team official puts it: “The guys might be frustrated by his antics, but they had an opportunity to prove themselves without him in Game 5 and they played like a bunch of [cowards].”
Multiple Warriors objected.
Klay Thompson, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:
“That article pissed me off for this reason: If you’re going to call someone a coward, how are you not going to put your name to that quote?” Thompson began. “It’s easy to point to someone and call them a coward behind a shade of a shield. But why don’t you put your name to it? Then you can call us cowards. That’s fine. You can tell us that.
“But to say we played like cowards, and you’re not going to quote the guy who said it? That’s weak to me, man. How are you going to quote Mo (Speights) and not anybody else? That actually got under my skin, because you call us cowards but you’re not going to put your name to the quote? You know what I mean? You’re not going to quote who said it? You’re just going to say, oh, some executive said they’re cowards? Get out of here. That made me mad.”
Steve Kerr, via Poole:
“I don’t know who said that. I’d guarantee it wasn’t any of our coaching staff. I would be shocked if it was anybody in basketball management. We don’t do that. Nobody ever said that to me, not even to the press. But nobody ever said that to me, like, ‘those guys played like cowards.’ So I have no idea where that came from.”
“It’s upsetting because you want to keep things in-house,” he said. “If somebody wants to say something, then they should put their name on it. If you don’t feel like you can put your name on it, you shouldn’t say it.”
Thompson’s and Kerr’s resentment is warranted. It’s the height of irony to anonymously call people “[cowards].”
And the team official was wrong, anyway.
The Warriors lost the pivotal Game 5 of the NBA Finals, because LeBron James and Kyrie Irving played historically well and Golden State missed rim protection from a suspended Green. To say the Warriors played like “[cowards]” wrongly shorts both them and Cleveland. The Cavs were plenty good enough to outplay a focused and driven Golden State team with Green – as Game 7 showed.
The problem isn’t always mettle.
However, in this case, it is – for the anonymous team official.
Who knew Russell Westbrook was a big David Spade fan?
Westbrook was going to have a tough time topping his Steven Adams costume from last season, but he went an unexpected direction with the effort — Joe Dirt. As in the lead character from the David Spade film.
Did not see that coming.
It turns out, Westbrook is a big Joe Dirt fan.
Note to self: If he loves Joe Dirt, don’t listen Westbrook’s movie recommendations in the future.