The 76ers are young, talented, and energetic.
And, it seems, capable of losing some truly remarkable games. The team's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday can be stacked atop an impressive pillar of oh-my-goodness defeats.
But, considering the stinging nature of this most recent loss, there seems to be some recognition of exactly why it happened and how this particular way of losing can be avoided in the future.
Before Sunday night's game against the Denver Nuggets, Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday offered a straightforward take on what he and his teammates are trying to change.
"We talked about being more focused at all times, whether it's in shoot-around, it's in practice, whenever we're talking about basketball we have to be more focused," explained Holiday, whose own end-of-game turnovers were costly. "We have a lot of young guys, and, yeah, we have fun with each other, but when it comes to the game, it's all business - even if we are up by 20, and they put their subs in, and everybody thinks the game is over."
Last season, the Sixers were a terrible home team, which prompted Doug Collins to move pregame shoot-arounds from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to the Wells Fargo Center. Collins hoped the move would familiarize his team with its home surroundings. After Sunday's win, the Sixers are 15-8 at home.
The hope within the Sixers' locker room is that Friday's loss to the Grizzlies will cause a similar shift in concentration, forcing the team to see every minute, both in games and in practice, as an opportunity to practice the discipline it will need at game's end.
"I don't think anything happens coincidentally or accidentally," Collins said. "I think when something happens, it's always an opportunity for you to do two things: either to grow or regress. One of the things we've always done in moments like this, we've grown. I think the players really felt the sting of that loss the other night."
With superstar Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets in town on Sunday night, the conversation turned to the season-long 'Melo drama that has plagued coach George Karl's team. Anthony, who's a free agent this summer, has been the centerpiece of trade talks and endless speculation.
"I think we laugh about it, we joke about it," Karl said of the hoopla. "In general, it has not had a big effect upon our basketball, which I think is a compliment to a lot of people, especially the players. We're in a good place; we've had a good season so far through a tremendous amount of drama and energy."
- Kate Fagan