That might be what 76ers fans are wondering this morning, a few hours after that really bad 29-point loss to the New Jersey Nets: Will this impact the final six games? Will the Sixers struggle and slip lower in the Eastern Conference seedings?
Going into last night's game, the Sixers were in prime position: sole possessors of the fifth seed ahead of the Miami Heat, 2 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the fourth seed. Heck, about 90 minutes before tip-off, Sixers coach Tony DiLeo mentioned that the Sixers were gunning for that fourth seed, for home-court advantage. This was the first time DiLeo had said anything specific. Most of the time the answer was something along the lines of, "We're trying to win each game as it comes at us."
Then the Sixers looked awful against the not-good Nets. And the loss meant New Jersey swept the four-game season series -- never a good thing. It also meant the Sixers fell to the sixth spot. But the bigger concern is the timing. The Sixers don't have an easy final six games. They play a tough, two-game road trip at the Charlotte Bobcats and the Chicago Bulls, both teams still fighting. They play the Cleveland Cavaliers at home and away (the Cavs are 39-1 at home and still fighting with the Lakers for the best record, and home court advantage, in the NBA Finals). They play the Boston Celtics at home. In between all that, they travel to Toronto to play the Raptors. All this means that Sunday's game against New Jersey was, perhaps, one of the last games that felt like "Ok, they should grab this one." Especially with the way they've been playing. Going into last night's game, the Sixers were 10-4 in their previous 14 games.
Maybe I'm being optimistic here, but I think Sunday night was an anomaly. I think it stands alone. I think it was the result of a grueling back-to-back, too many minutes for their main guys, and inevitable in this last stretch for the Sixers that includes something like 26 games in 40 days.