When might Philadelphia finally win a game? A look at the schedule.

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The Philadelphia 76ers’ defense is bad. Their offense is potentially historically bad (although they have improved a little lately they are still far and away the worst in the NBA and just ahead of worst-ever pace). We all know this is part of management and GM Sam Hinkie’s master plan — stockpile draft picks, play the young guys like Michael Carter-Williams, and as a byproduct be so bad as to get the chance to draft top talent. (And they did, Joel Embiid could be special, but he is also out for the season.)

That doesn’t make them any easier to watch.

The Philadelphia 76ers are just a dumpster fire. An 0-17 dumpster fire. Just two more losses from “besting” the 2009 New Jersey Nets, which lost 18 games to start the season, the NBA record for early season futility.

Monday night the Sixers picked up a moral victory by battling from 24 back to make it interesting against the Spurs in the final minutes. Michael Carter-Williams had 24 points and the Sixers covered the covered the 11-point spread but fell 109-103 to a Spurs team resting Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. You know what you get for a moral victory in the NBA? Exactly. You get 0-17.

When might the Sixers get that elusive first win? Let’s take a look at the schedule.

• Wednesday, Dec. 3, at Minnesota Timberwolves. This could be the Sixers best chance because the Timberwolves are without Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic, so they are leaning heavily on youth such as Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Of course, they still have guys like Thaddeus Young and Mo Williams, they have guys that can put up points, but they have struggled and lost 9-of-11, the most recent win needing a late Laker collapse to make happen.

Lose this game and the Sixers tie the NBA record for most losses to start a season. They should be desperate. Minnesota is still more talented and at home, but we’ll call this one a coin toss.

• Friday, Dec. 5, Oklahoma City Thunder. A week ago this looked much better, but with Russell Westbrook back (and Kevin Durant potentially back, he’s been practicing) this team is playing much better. Plus the Thunder have a sense of desperation about them, they know they have to win better than two-thirds of their games the rest of the way to even have a shot at the eight seed in the West. They are not going to let an easy win slip by them. Sixers have a five percent chance here.

• Saturday, Dec. 6, at Detroit Pistons. Another winnable game for the Sixers as the Pistons have good talent on the roster — Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings — but none of it fits together well. Stan Van Gundy has a lot of work to clean up Joe Dumars’ mess. The Pistons have one of the worst offenses in the NBA, if the Sixers can just get some points on the board they have a chance. That said, it’s the second night of a back-to-back on the road for Philly, so let’s say the Sixers have just a 35 percent chance in this one.

• Wednesday, Dec. 10, at Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have won seven of their last 10 and they have Jeff Teague playing at a near All-Star level at the point, not to mention Al Horford in the paint. Atlanta is just the better team and the Sixers have maybe a five percent chance in this one.

• Friday, Dec. 12, at Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have been up and down this season, with a defense that has been pretty average but an offense that is bottom 10. Still, the Nets have good talent on that side of the ball — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez (if he’s healthy). I can’t imagine Kevin Garnett letting the Nets lose to the Sixers, but this is an up and down team and things happen. We’ll give the Sixers a 15 percent chance to get this win.

• Saturday, Dec. 13, Memphis Grizzlies. Philadelphia has no shot here. None. Zero.

• At this point if the Sixers are still winless at 0-23 it’s going to be a massive national story to see if they can set another futility record (remember they lost 26 straight last season tying the 2010-11 Cavaliers). But the Sixers also would have three winnable games as they got desperate: Boston, Charlotte and Orlando. All three lottery bound teams struggling to start the season. The Sixers would not be favorites in any of those games — good chance they are not a favorite all season — but they’ll have a chance.

Which is to say, they are not going to get to 26 and set an NBA record to start the season. Probably. But that Magic game on Dec. 21 starts a seven game road trip, so the Sixers can just start a new streak.

Damian Lillard reportedly playing through separated ribs suffered in Game 2

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Midway through the third quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, Portland’s Damian Lillard and Golden State’s Kevon Looney both dove for a loose ball near midcourt. Looney got it, threw the ball ahead to Stephen Curry, and in the process rolled over Lillard.

Lillard suffered separated ribs on that play, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Here is the play.

Lillard has shot 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) since the injury, including 5-of-18 in the Trail Blazers’ Game 3 loss.

Lillard shot 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) before the injury — the Warriors trapping him and forcing the ball out of his hands has been an issue for Lillard in this series, long before his collision with Looney.

Lillard himself did not bring the injury up, it was leaked. When asked in his postgame press conference Saturday night, Lillard admitted to being tired but would not use it as an excuse.

“Everybody’s tired,” Lillard said. “It’s the third round of the playoffs after a long season. Our last series, I got a lot of attention. The team was giving me a lot of attention and same thing in this series. It takes a lot to deal with that and then go out and chase guys around on the defensive end.

“But everybody’s putting that effort out. I mean, I feel fine enough to go out there and play 40 minutes like I have been, but you know, it’s definitely tiring.”

And he’s playing through pain on top of it.

Portland is already down 0-3 in this series and faces a win-or-it’s-over Game 4 on Monday night at the Moda Center.

Game 3 Déjà vu: Warriors slow down Lillard, come from behind to win, take 3-0 series lead

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It was Déjà vu all over again for the Warriors and Trail Blazers. And it all started with Damian Lillard.

The Warriors didn’t re-invent the wheel in this playoff series, they just have aggressively executed the game plan that has troubled Portland in the playoffs for years:

Take the ball out of Damian Lillard’s hands, dare anyone else to beat you.

Oklahoma City and Denver could not do it, but Golden State has. Every chance the Warriors get they trap Lillard off the pick-and-roll, and even when they don’t do that the Warriors show the second defender early. Lillard has struggled with his shot against that, he was 5-of-18 shooting in Game 3, and in the series he is now 15-of-46 (32.6 percent).

What Lillard is doing right is making the smart pass to the big on the short roll at the free throw line, creating a 4-on-3 (or sometimes 3-on-2) for the Trail Blazers to attack, but they have not consistently taken advantage of that.

“I think what they want me to do is make the correct play, and for me, I try to do that for as long as possible,” Lillard said. “You know, as long as I can do it and we can stay in the game or have a lead like we have the last two games when I’m just making the right plays, and guys are doing what they’re supposed to do on the weak side.

“But I think in Golden State’s minds, they know at some point, if we’re going to beat them, I’m going to have to be rolling. They are just kind of banking on the fact that we’ll just live with what’s happening right now. Keep getting the ball out of his hands and you know, at some point, we’ll probably be able to take over the game.”

Golden State did take over the game, in part bucause they have a playmaker as good as Draymond Green.

Green is the master of the short roll, and on Saturday night he was doing that, plus driving end-to-end, owning the glass, and generally being the best player on the floor on his way to 20 points on 12 shots, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists.

“I don’t even know what to say about Draymond, he was like a wrecking ball out there,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said postgame. “He was just destroying every in his path. The pace he was generating was incredible and it seemed like he never got tired.”

Green was critical to another dominant Golden State third quarter that sparked a comeback from 18 down in the third to win 110-99.

Golden State now has a stranglehold on the series, up 3-0. Game 4 is in Portland on Monday night.

The Warriors are now 4-0 without Kevin Durant, still out with a strained calf (he’s not expected to return this series). Stephen Curry, who had 36 in this win, has scored at least 33 in each of those wins.

In the most important ways, Game 3 felt like a replay of Game 2, just in a different arena.

Feeding off that home crowd and energy, the Trail Blazers raced out to an early lead and were the better team through the first 24 minutes. Portland shot 11-of-22 outside the paint in the first half, compared to 9-of-27 for Golden State. Portland had a 125.7 offensive rating in the first half thanks to that shooting, plus grabbing the offensive rebound on 34.8 percent of their missed shots.

More than the offense, Portland played good half-court defense in the first half, taking the Warriors out of their rhythm. They trapped Curry and Thompson with size — Moe Harkless and Myers Leonard if possible — and the Warriors struggled to adapt

Leonard played the best basketball of his career in the first half, with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting (he finished with 16 points) and making plays like this:

All that had the Trail Blazers up 13 at the half. It was impressive, then again they were up 15 at the half in Game 2. The Warriors were not fazed.

“It all started with our second half defense, we held them to 33 points,” Steve Kerr said after the game. “We had amazing contributions off the bench, every single guy came in and made an impact.”

That bench mattered. The Golden State starters and core lineups got back in the game, taking a small lead, but when Green and Curry rested to start the fourth, Portland left their starters in and were still -3 in those critical minutes.

Curry and Green came in rested, and the Warriors leaned on them heavily the rest of the way with the Curry/Green pick-and-roll — Portland has no answers for that.

The Warriors run also seemed to shake the Portland offense. The Trail Blazers shot 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) from three after the first quarter, and for the game the Blazers missed 13 free throws (they shot just 60.6 percent as a team from the stripe).

Portland was led by CJ McCollum, who had 23 points on 20 shots.

He’s going to have to do better, Lillard is going to have to do a lot better, and the Blazers are going to have to find something special in the third quarter Monday night, or they will be swept right out of the playoffs.

Blazers passing impressive as they push first-half lead to double digits (VIDEO)

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Back home, the Portland Trail Blazers looked far more comfortable.

Feeding off the energy of a loud crowd at the Moda Center, the Trail Blazers stretched out to a first-half lead thanks to a level of impressive ball movement and energy we have not seen from them all series. Check it out.

This may go down as the Myers Leonard game, he had 13 points in the first half.

Portland stretched their lead to as much as 18 and was up by 13 at the half. I wouldn’t call that comfortable because, well, Golden State, but it’s the best the Blazers have played all series.

Rockets will not bring defensive coach Jeff Bzdelik back next season

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Before the All-Star break, the Rockets had a defensive rating of 112.2 (points allowed per 100 possessions), 25th in the NBA.

After the All-Star break, the Rockets had a defensive rating of 105.3, second best in the NBA. In the playoffs, the Rockets had a 107.3 defensive rating despite six games against the Warriors.

There are multiple reasons for that change, but a key one: The Rockets backed up the Brinks truck and brought assistant coach and defensive specialist Jeff Bzdelik out of retirement to help fix the problems.

Bzdelik will not be back with the team next season, reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Technically Bzdelik was fired, although that is not an accurate description of really what happened here. This was not because of poor job performance, it was a question of if he really wanted to be there, and the Rockets wanted someone all-in. Understandably. This is a Houston team still on the cusp of a title, just one that has run headlong into the Warriors dynasty in recent years. A dynasty that likely will look a lot different next year, opening the door in the West. The Rockets want to push through that door.

That said, replacing Bzdelik will not be easy.

It’s one of a number of challenging choices for the Rockets this summer.