Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Worst Kind Of Year

If at the start of the year, you had told me that after 55 games of the regular season, that my Sixers would be 29-26, 2 games off the division lead from Boston and in the 7th seed in the East, I would have likely shrugged.

After all, that's more or less where they were last year, and more or less where people expected them to finish this year. The only real difference being that Boston is actually catchable, at least in theory. (Though after tonight's Starters Suck home court loss to the reeling Magic, you wonder if even that theory is plausible.)

Had you also spotted me the small moments of how Evan Turner would be showing signs of breakout, and Spencer Hawes would be giving them hope for the future at 5, I also would have been heartened.

Toss in the small moments that Nic Vucevic and Lavoy Allen would definitely seem like rotation-worthy big men, and that the team would have suffered no truly awful injuries, and I'd probably take the year as a further small building moment.

It's just how they've gotten here that's been so depressing. Hot start, slow fade, fools' gold feeling and the growing sense that Doug Collins isn't long for this world as an NBA coach. And that the ball movement, unselfish play, deep bench and solid defense are all just mirages of the short sprint season, and that the deeper story is that the treadmill here is forever, that Jrue Holiday and Turner are just not good enough to turn the corner and be top-tier talents, and that we will spend the next 5 to 10 years being the first round speed bag for the Heat and Bulls, once we choke off the division to whatever Boston and New York rolls out in the perpetually weak Atlantic Division.

Assuming that they don't fall behind New York behind them, and Milwaukee as well, the Sixers will spend their second straight postseason getting rolled by Miami, a team they've gone 0-4 against with about as much resistance as the Ethiopians offered against Mussolini. They'll do it with Little Engine That Can't depression, with Elton Brand trying his aging and not athletic enough heart out, with Lou Williams giving rays of hope from the bench on offense and sighs of resignation on defense, with Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala showing themselves to be nice things to have for better teams to add in future trades, with Collins getting to that back to you Marv moment where he realizes that the broadcast booth is a better place to spend his time.

And no one will note, nor remember, just how much fun it was to watch this team at the start of the year, when they truly were a joy to watch. Even if the only thing they were really doing was beating teams that were much worse than them.

Moving on...

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