Last year, even though it was clear that the 76ers were not a good team, I advocated for them to reach the playoffs, which they did.
I thought it was the right thing at that time. They had young players whom I thought would benefit from the experience, and I think they have.
However, they have changed the roster so much – and I still contend that right now making the deal for Andrew Bynum was the right move – and, unfortunately for them, they have not had the key piece to this roster that they envisioned they would have.
But after falling 11 games below .500 following an inexcusable and effortless loss to a wretched Orlando team that featured former 76er “assets” Maurice Harkless (10 points) and Nik Vucevic (19 rebounds, 12 points), and after hearing the revelatory extended press conference by coach Doug Collins in which he called into question the effort of his players, it is clear that the best thing for this team to do is to wind up in the lottery.
Criticize the coaching all you want. Today, after that awful loss, anything is fair. But you can’t criticize Collins without pointing your finger at the players as well. If the word “playoff” comes out of your mouth – and the players still talk about it, at least they did before Tuesday night - you can’t allow a team that had lost 17 of 18 and 10 in a row on the road come to your building and manhandle you.
You can’t have Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen combine for five rebounds in almost 40 minutes (one more than the skinny, 19-year-old Harkless) and then point the finger at anything other than heart and desire, neither of which were on display at that WFC debacle on Tuesday.
Some of the best assets the Sixers had on their roster were wearing Orlando’s uniform Tuesday, but there is no reason to get into a discussion about why this came to pass.. If you are reading, you know the reasoning.
This team doesn’t have the innate tenacity or talent to grind its way back into the playoff picture, not with 12 of their final 16 on the road. Last season, like them or loathe them, you knew that Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Lou Williams, limited as they were, were going to give it their all. They might lose, but they were not going to mail it in.
This team doesn’t have that DNA. This team isn’t going to make the playoffs.
So the paradigm has changed.
The playoffs? Nothing more than fantasy.
This season is officially about recouping assets, and the lottery, unfortunately, is the best place to start.