Before heading to Memphis, Sixers guard T.J. McConnell was adamant that the team couldn’t lose any more games against bad teams.
“I think every game is important, as I’m sure we all do,” McConnell said Saturday night. “But, you can’t really afford to lose one you’re supposed to win at this point in the season”
Then the Sixers collapsed against the Grizzlies on Monday, blowing a 15-point lead to lose, 105-101. As it stands now, the Sixers are 10-6 against teams that are currently sub-.500.
The thing is, the Sixers have had a tough schedule through the first half of the season with long stretches against playoff contending teams. Which is why McConnell’s words resonate now more than ever.
The lighter schedule (as far as opponents are concerned) would lead one to think that the Sixers can come out of the second half of the season with a slew of wins and improve their positioning in the East. But that will only happen if they can find a way to stay energized against the bottom dwellers of the NBA.
The Sixers have made it clear that they are aware of the standings. Another thing they should be aware of is that 19 of their 39 remaining games are against teams with losing records. That includes Wednesday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls (18-29), who beat the Sixers, 117-115, on Dec. 8.
Sixers coach Brett Brown often says that if a good team comes out and makes tough shots and beats his team, then they shake their hand and know that the opponent deserved the win. But losses against bad teams aren’t as easy to swallow.
Just three games separate the fourth-through-eighth seeds in the Eastern Conference. That means that if the Sixers had won just three more of their games against sub-.500 teams, they could be in contention for the fourth seed rather than sitting at eighth, on the cusp of being out of playoff contention.
“I don’t want to over react to Memphis,” Brown said Tuesday. “I’m not discounting it…it’s a stinky loss, a poor loss. But we’re going to move on.”
Brown pointed to many things that went wrong against the Grizzlies — turnovers, fouls, lack of leadership, panic, mentality at the end of the game — and rightfully so. It’s not surprising that those are the same problems that the Sixers have had in the other losses against bad teams.
A remedy to changing the Sixers mentality when going into games against losing teams is something that would probably take time. Though, time is not what the Sixers have. The season is going by quickly so the Sixers need to dive in head first and face the bad teams with the same energy that bring against the good ones.