The Philadelphia 76ers have had some pretty horrible weeks lately. This past week was supposed to be the worst yet for the Sixers, as they hosted the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers in three straight games. Instead, the Sixers finished 2-1 against those elite Eastern teams and probably should have gone 3-0.
The Sixers upset the Indiana Pacers by 98-91 on March 16, just as they beat the Nets on March 11 and almost beat the mighty Heat on March 13. Philadelphia had been so poor since the All-Star break that it never should have challenged these playoff teams, let alone nearly beat all of them.
Right before facing the Nets, the Sixers had lost their second straight game to the lowly Orlando Magic on March 10. There was nowhere else to go but up after that, which helped explain why Philadelphia caught Brooklyn napping 24 hours later. But when the Sixers nearly ended the Heat’s historic winning-streak, it was harder to explain.
Miami was playing its second game in as many nights, so it might have been caught napping as well. In any case, the Heat found a way to survive and restore order in the final minutes like always. The Pacers couldn’t say the same on March 16, as the Sixers opened the fourth quarter on a 19-4 run and never looked back.
Indiana did suffer a statement loss to Miami on March 10 and lost to the Kobe-Bryant less Los Angeles Lakers on March 15. Despite owning the second-best record in the East, the Pacers are down by 11 games to the Heat and know how far away they still are from threatening Miami. Therefore, the Sixers didn’t exactly catch the Pacers at their best, although it still shouldn’t have made a difference.
Philadelphia has been embarrassing for weeks, regardless of the level of their competition. The Sixers were supposed to play the top level of competition that the East had this past week, yet the Nets, Heat and Pacers didn’t play like it.
For one week, the Sixers played like the equal of the Nets, Heat and Pacers, as they were supposed to do all season. With Philadelphia now at 25-40 overall, it’s impossible to say that this was better late than never -- especially after this 2-1 stretch came out of nowhere.