Two teams racing in opposite directions clash tonight in Philadelphia, as the 37-26 Brooklyn Nets (who have won three straight) take on the 23-38 Philadelphia 76ers (who have lost 11 of their last 12). The Sixers have been in complete freefall for some time now, hitting rock bottom on February 26th with a 98-84 loss to the Orlando Magic that culminated in a reckless and feckless press conference from Sixers coach Doug Collins. Add in that it doesn’t appear that Andrew Bynum will play for the Sixers at all this season, and suffice it to say that the year hasn’t gone as planned for the Sixers.
Joining me to talk about Sixers basketball is the talented and affable Tom Sunnengren, of ESPN’s TrueHoop 76ers Affiliate blog Hoop76. To give you an idea of how the Sixers season has gone so far, read the tone of Tom’s answers, then consider that Tom never met a smile or happy thought he didn’t like.
And, as always: The BK Game Streak is up. Get to playin’.
Devin: The Nets won the first two matchups between these two teams and the Sixers are in complete freefall, losing 11 of their last 12 games. What would have to go right for Philly to sneak their first win over Brooklyn this year?
Tom Sunnengren, Hoop76: The Sixers are struggling so badly at this point that to beat a team like the Nets, even at home, they’d need a huge game from one of their best players. I think Thaddeus Young would have to go something like 13-of-17 from the floor for 26 points, with 12 rebounds and, I don’t know, five steals in 41 minutes.
Oh, you know what? He did this exact thing Sunday night and they lost to the Magic by eight points. So nothing. The Sixers are not going to win this game. (While we’re on the subject, did you know the Magic have won six games since Dec. 21, and two have come against the Sixers? That’s true.)
Devin: First-round pick Arnett Moultrie seems like a pretty good young big man. Why isn’t he playing more? Should he be?
Sunnengren:Arnett Moultrie leads the team in Win Shares/48 minutes, Wins Produced/48 minutes, and trails Thaddeus Young by just 0.2 for the team lead in PER. So, yes, you’d think he’d have played more than 257 minutes this season. That said, when you have juggernauts like Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen, and Kwame Brown ahead of you on the depth chart, sometimes you just have to wait your turn.
Devin: After his epic meltdown of a press conference after the loss to the Magic, when it seemed like he was begging to get fired, Doug Collins is still at the helm in Philly. How has the team responded to him since, and is there any chance he has this job next season?
Sunnengren: The Sixers have gone 1-6 since Collins’ thoughtful, well-reasoned Feb. 26 remarks–with two of the losses coming against the Wizards and Magic–so I’d say the team was really galvanized. It goes back to what I always say: a lot of people criticize Collins for being anti-analytic, for eschewing the new science of the game, but what they miss is that he really understands the other aspects of the sport. Like, he’s clearly got his finger in the pulse of this team. He knows the right buttons to push. I mean, look at the job he’s done this season. Why wouldn’t the Sixers bring him back? It’s not like he runs a bankrupt, atavistic offensive system and exercises so much control over personel that the he scared every credible GM candidate away last summer.