In today's newsletter:
- About last night's game.
- Key stats from the game.
- Stray thoughts.
- Link roundup.
One of the struggles in covering a good team, but one that has not seen that regular season success translate to a deep postseason run, is that it's easy to catch yourself seeing the warning signs in every poor performance.
Last night's game, a 116-111 loss to the woeful Washington Wizards which snapped the Sixers' eight-game winning streak, certainly qualifies as one such dreadful showing. The defense in the first half was downright abysmal. The (lack of) ball movement down the stretch inexplicable, leading to both of the Sixers' stars coming up short late in the game. Their perimeter shooters were firing away like pre-glasses Rick Vaughn. The rebounding throughout was an embarrassment.
And despite all of that the Sixers still nearly salvaged a win, because Joel Embiid and James Harden are that good at basketball. But they certainly didn't deserve it.
You could certainly point to many of the issues in the paragraph above and find a direct throughline to the disappointments of seasons past. And I'm certainly not at the point where I believe in this team winning four playoff series in April, May and June. It will take much more than an eight game winning streak against (mostly) middling competition to convince me of that.
But good teams have off nights as well, and most of the times even the best teams in the league will lose 25+ times per year. Having to write "see, I told you this team was a fraud!" that many times has to get tiring. Perhaps I'm in still in the holiday spirit, or perhaps it's the hangover from the eight game winning streak, but I'm not yet ready to burn any goodwill the Sixers may have generated because of one stinker against the Wizards, especially since one of my major takeaways from the winning streak was to be impressed with how consistently they took care of business.