The Philadelphia 76ers needed to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 20 to gain ground in the playoff race. However, the Sixers technically lost before the game even began. It was lost for the Sixers once this battle was scheduled on the road, which has been the kiss of death for Philadelphia this year.
The Sixers’ 94-87 defeat was their seventh consecutive loss on the road. This time it was to a Timberwolves team that had lost 16 of their previous 19 games and was without Kevin Love. Yet no matter who the Sixers visit, they can’t win outside of Philadelphia.
It isn’t like the Sixers have been on fire at the Wells Fargo Center, although they have gone 16-13 in their own stadium. This is far superior to the 6-17 record they have on the road, with their last two defeats being particularly costly. They lost to the Milwaukee Bucks by blowing a first half lead on Feb. 13, then they lost to the Timberwolves when they couldn’t erase a huge first half deficit.
If Philadelphia had won both of these games, it would only be one game back of Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the East. Instead, it remains four games back and has already lost the tiebreaker to the Bucks. Yet if the Sixers even had 10 road wins, they would be locked up with the Bucks right now.
Only the Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards have fewer road wins than the Sixers in the entire NBA. What’s more, the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns also have only six road wins to speak of.
To add further insult, the Sixers have a better overall record than all five of these teams, as none of them even have 20 victories this season. This makes it pretty obvious why the Sixers are outside of the playoff picture and fading fast.
Perhaps getting to host the Miami Heat on Feb. 23 will help Philadelphia, although it needs all the help it can get. But a loss will make upcoming road games against the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls much more important, as the Sixers are almost out of time to learn how to survive away from home.