Howard Smith - USA Today Images
An absolutely ludicrous exercise in hoping for the best and not getting it.
The Sixers are now 21-26 after 47 games. Andrew Bynum has played has many games as I have.
I vacillate between Sixers hater and Sixers apologist depending on who you're talking to, so it's gotten hard for me to keep track of how many times I've said "We win that game if Bynum was here." With the beats reporting every post move and the progression of his health, it seems like *DEEP BREATH FINGERS CROSSED EYES CLOSED* we won't have to wait too much longer before Bynum actually plays.
After last week's tough but thoroughly enjoyable loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Sixers players weighed in on how big the big guy will be once he returns. This, to my knowledge, is the first time anyone on the team has spoke this specifically about him coming back. He really is close, guys.
Evan Turner: "Once the big fella comes back, it's going to be different. Once he comes back, when he does, it will close down the middle. People know what's going on. They still fear him."
Thaddeus Young: "We're very anxious. We have been waiting all season long for the big fella to show us what he has got. We feel once he gets back it's going to be much easier for us to win games. We're just going to have to hold the fort down until he comes back."
And Doug thought we'd be a .600 team with him. Though he also thought Kwame Brown and Spencer Hawes would be his starting frontcourt pre-Bynum, so take that for what it's worth.
So as the shadow of Bynum looms (though I started writing this before Thad went down, so double turds), I figured I'd take a look at the games they lost and see how a healthy Bynum could have changed them. Obviously this entire exercise is ludicrous and worthless and should be taken as lightly as you'd take a political commentary from Spencer Hawes. None of this is right and this is basically a personification of the fallacy of the predetermined outcome.
With that in mind, let's get crazy.
"New York had terrific spacing and nice ball movement, which must be a breath of fresh air for Knicks fans after watching piles of plodding, isolation basketball last season. The Sixers looked consistently late on rotations, leaving them to implement a cross your fingers and hope they miss defensive approach." - Dave
With Bynum? Nope. Knicks hit lots of shots and Tyson Chandler wasn't really a factor. Assuming they'd need a good bit of time to acclimate Bynum into the offense, I don't think he makes enough of a difference to change the outcome.
"If there was one sequence that put the proverbial icing on the cake of the Sixers' night, it had to be Nick Young's fadeaway, falling out of bounds, 3-point shot attempt with plenty of time left on the clock." - Tanner
With Bynum? Same as the game before. The Knicks were hitting shots (13 threes and 19-19 from the line) and the Sixers were taking bad ones. Bynum would help things, but I don't think the defense would've been enough to get them a W.
"About midway through the 3rd Quarter, Jrue Holiday was living the dream, getting drunk, talking to a girl, etc. And then next thing you know, he woke up in a place he didn't remember getting to, with only a pee stain on his pants to show for his big night out." - Rich
With Bynum? This was before the Larry Sanders Block Party Spectacular came into town. Sam Dalembert and Ekpe Udoh played the majority of minutes at the 5. Neither of those guys could handle Bynum. The 4th quarter collapse doesn't happen if they can dump it to Drew in the post instead of Jrue Holiday having to force it. And the Bucks had a stretch of four consecutive layups -- less likely with Bynum instead of Spencer Hawes in there. This is a W.
"One play that summed up the entire night: Late in the second quarter, Pistons' center Greg Monroe attempted a free throw with his right eye closed after losing his contact lens during a drive to the basket. And, quite naturally, he made the shot." - Roy
With Bynum? Detroit channeled 2004 and the Sixers had no answer. It doesn't matter if Andrew plays or not -- when Jrue, Thad, J-Rich, and Evan combine to shoot 10-42, you don't win games. Even when Kyle Singler plays 40 minutes.
"This was a gassed team. They came out lethargic. Their jumpers were off. They couldn't defend through pick and rolls or screens to save their life, and they were a step slow closing out on shooters. I'm willing to give them a mulligan, but man, that hurt." - Derek
With Bynum? Andy Varejao pulled in 7 o-boards. Tristan Thompson grabbed 3. Cut that in half with Bynum in front of them. This was the Jeremy Pargo game. I'm not sure if he gets 28 with Bynum playing, but I choose to believe that he doesn't. The Sixers actually got to the line 22 times this game. They just missed a ton of threes. Bynum gets them a few more open ones, covers up some mistakes and they win in Cleveland.
"It's no mystery: It's difficult to contend in the NBA without a transcendent talent. And when a team without one happens to face a team that has two of them, it often takes a Herculean effort (or a special set of circumstances) to pull out a victory in a close contest. To their credit, the Sixers left everything they had out on the floor tonight." - Roy
With Bynum? Thad had a beast night with 29 and 15. Evan went off for 26 on 17 shots. Jrue only had 6 points, but 13 assists. But they couldn't overcome 37 from Kevin Durant and 30 from Russell Westbrook or the EIGHT offensive rebounds for Serge Ibaka. They could've won this one without him -- Bynum gets them a huge win here.
"The second half was much more of the same. Sixers take bad shots, Hawes sucks up the joint (more on him in a moment), everyone sucking, Bulls sucking, periodic Kirk Hinrich moment of doing something not awful, etc." - Justin
With Bynum? Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young did a nice job for the Sixers frontcourt against Joakim Noah (6-15) and Carlos Boozer (5-14) but it was Luol Deng who made the difference. Bynum may have given them the edge here, but Deng was the problem and Drew wouldn't have helped much on him. I'd guess they still lose.
"If the Sixers want to remain a .500 team, they need to fix the problem by scoring at a much higher rate to cancel out the defensive struggles (which is unlikely), or they have to play better defense. You know, the opposite of what they did last night. In truth, I don't think this team is much more than a .500 team at best (their numbers suggest that they are less than that right now), but you'd like to see a better effort than last night. If they lose because of talent, fine. But at least try and show improvements in the areas that you can improve on." - Rich
With Bynum? Minnesota hit shots. Lots of them. Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved, Malcolm Lee and Josh Howard combined to hit 11 threes. That's a league-mandated loss. Sure, nobody there can cover Bynum (Greg Stiemsma?) but I bet the Sixers still take their fair share of terrible shots and lose.
"It seems the Sixers were not quite ready to crawl out of their scoring abyss just yet. After scoring a mere 28 points in the first half -- a record team-low -- and digging themselves into a 20 point deficit, the struggling Sixers offense showed flashes of hope. Doug Collins told reporters that his team's physical toughness was no match for the mental toughness of the Celtic's big three
With Bynum? In the second of a home-and-home with Boston, the Sixers came out flat, played flat, and got crushed. But these Celtics would have had to play a lot more Chris Wilcox than they'd like if Bynum was playing. KG would give him a shot, maybe Brandon Bass... but they'd be powerless against him. I bet the Sixers climb out of their hole earlier and win this one.
"They are a collection of isolation plays and ill-advised contested jumpers. He only played 7 guys, and those guys were bad. Feeling pretty murderous towards Collins tonight.is really good. The "THEY BOOED AN INJURY" thing is overblown, as everything in this stupid world is, but he's a major dickbag. A talented dickbag, though. If played, the Sixers probably would've won. The Sixers combined for 9 points from the foul line and three point line. That's, uh, well.... guys?" - Levin
With Bynum? Jrue took 28 shots and made zero foul shots. The Sixers committed 10 more fouls than Chicago, who went 24-26 from the line. This felt like a game where they just needed a Bynum. Chicago started Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli. I'm chalking this up to a hypothetical win and there's nothing you can do to stop me.
"This will tell you everything you need to know about tonight's contest: According to CSNPhilly, the play of the game was a missed second-quarter dunk by Paul George that came thisclose to putting on a poster. It was that kind of night - as our very own Brandon Lee pointed out, the game should have been sponsored by Pepto-Bismol due to a lack of runs." - Roy
With Bynum? Minus Jrue, Spencer managed to log a decent game, despite shooting a lovely 1-5 from inside 5 feet. His jumper was wet (7-10, somehow) and Kwame Brown started, hauling in 1 rebound in 21 minutes. The 19 and 13 for Roy Hibbert would have been avoided. It was Evan's game though. And keeping them as close as he did gives me confidence that a certain 7-footer pushes another one into the win column.
"Kobe Bryant hit a series of very difficult and contested shots, something he has been doing since like the Ford Administration. Dwight Howard also found some breathing room in the second half, and Chris Duhon joined the three parade. The Lakers didn't just stop in the Turnersville gift shop. They invaded that fine town and implemented Martial Law." - Dave
With Bynum? WELL YEAH NICK YOUNG HAD 30. But the Lakers wings were too much too handle for the Sixers lame perimeter defense and Chris Duhon had 14 points. Sometimes you just throw your hands up and tip your cap to the other team. Lakeshow win regardless, though Bynum would've made it fun.
"This was not a blowout. This felt like a blowout. But it was not a blowout. I have no idea how this was not a blowout. Could someone please explain to me how this was not a blowout?" - Justin
With Bynum? Having lost three in a row prior to this game and still missing a certain Jruish Princess, this game may seem unwinnable, but had Bynum been there, Chris Kaman doesn't score 20 on Spencer and OJ Mayo doesn't get inside nearly as easily. Can't waste the rare good shooting night (13-35 from beyond). Bynum wins it for them.
"The < insert Western Conference opponent here > started red-hot, building a double-digit lead before my little brain could process that Maalik Wayns and Kwame Brown were starting for my favorite basketball team. My wife, who thinks that Ty Wigginton is an NBA small forward, smartly asked, "Why isn't anyone covering the white team?" Why isn't anyone covering the white team?" - Dave
With Bynum? The Rockets are too damn good. No chance on this night, even with Drew.
"Remember in NBA2K9 (I'm not sure if they still do it, I haven't played a basketball video game since that one) when you'd take a timeout, you had an option to apply a "point-of-emphasis" during the break? It had 4 or 5 options including rebounding, ball control and, my personal favorite, shot selection. Well, if real life were a video game, I'd have to imagine Doug Collins has never once pressed A when "shot selection" was highlighted." - Tanner
With Bynum? Jrue, Evan, and Thad all play well and they didn't turn the ball over much? That's a W with Andrew even with the walking anomaly that was Keith Bogans scoring 13 points on 6 shots.
"Following up his great night, Spencer Hawes contributed 2 points and 1 rebound in 9 minutes. He did foul 5 times, so there's that." - Derek
With Bynum? The Sixers shot about 25% on midrange jumpers, which isn't excellent. But their defense, for a change, wasn't awful. They didn't turn the ball over and forced a bunch on the other end. With Bynum, Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins would foul out for being too handsy and awkward and Drew would live at the line. I'll give it to the Theoretical Sixers who get the W's to play their style of ball (read: bad) and steal one.
"Looking for a chance to tie the game late, Jrue Holiday attacked the basket and drew the double team so that he could kick the ball out for a game tying three. There was only problem. The person Jrue kicked out to from beyond the arc was... *dramatic pause* ... Spencer Hawes. You mean, the guy who was previously 1-9 in the game and totally useless? That freakin' guy?!
Yeah. That guy. Now, we've all seen some Sp3nc3r Haw3s moments before but he's really not the guy you want shooting that shot especially when there's better shooters on the floor. But alas, that's the Sixers we've come to know and
love hate love. The Blazers got the ball back after that miss and the game was all over from there. Fin." - Brandon
With Bynum? Second night of a back to back against a surprisingly tough Blazers team? I don't think so. Jrue did everything good and everything bad (29/9/9 but 7 turnovers) and Portland was too balanced. Bynum presents a matchup problem but I'll count on Doug not wanting to run him into the ground and giving him a lighter load in this one. That's a loss, but not a bad one.
"These are the Phoenix Suns who were 11-21 and struggling with a 6 game losing streak entering this game. They are not a good team. But that didn't stop them from beating the Sixers tonight, who are also a bad team at times. And that's part of what the Sixers are: an inconsistent team. A team that one night beats the Lakers on the road only to lose to the [expletive deleted] Phoenix Suns the next night." - Brandon
With Bynum? Ew that one was embarrassing. Another pitiful game from both Hawes and Turner. Bynum gives them more reason to bench dudes when they're playing badly. Um... them. Jrue trip-dub and good shooting nights from Dorell and Swag -- plus it's effing PHOENIX -- put up a Bynum victory.
"While the fact the Sixers lost and lost big to the Thunder is hardly a surprise, watching it all unravel as slowly and as painfully as it did in the second half is still depressing. Even when you know inside the ending is going to painful, you still watch and still cringe because oh my gosh the Sixers went into this season with aspirations of a deep playoff run." - Justin
With Bynum? Uhhh. Not this one.
"The 76ers don't win in San Antonio as-is. The 76ers have lost 25 of their previous 26 games against the Spurs in San Antonio. If everything goes their way the Spurs would still be prohibitive favorites. Put them at the end of an 8 game road trip, where they've played 4 games in 5 nights, on the tail end of a back to back after having just played in Oklahoma City the night before, against a Spurs team that had the night off (albeit had to travel back from New York)?" - Derek
With Bynum? Man, this roadie was brutal. A back-to-back in San Antonio? Too tough. Hard to waste that 22-point Hawes performance though. I remember Spurs guys flipping over how good he was. Yeah. Great times. Oh yeah. Still a loss.
TITLE: "Booger Nights: Sixers Picked Apart By Nets On Mark Wahlberg Night" - Tanner
With Bynum? He'd be a major factor. I mean, Reggie Evans had sex with all of our mothers while gathering every rebound (23 total) on the night. Wouldn't happen if Sheriff Andy was running things. I'll say it's a win. Morale is up. They win this one.
"The Sixers are, easily, the most Sixers team of all time. Even when they are the worst team in the league over a few-game span, they aren't bad enough to set fun records to talk about. All they had to do tonight was lose by 20 to become the 8th team in NBA history to lose 4 straight games by at least 20 points. They lost by 18. Inconsiderate jerks." - Levin
With Bynum? Sometimes you lay an egg. This was that egg. LOSS.
"had one of those crazy Swaggy outbursts that he's good for about twice a season. Through no fault of Swaggy's, threatening to win just couldn't have happened, because with the exception of about six minutes, the Sixers didn't guard the Hornets all game. They got whatever they wanted and then made the open shots they were creating." - Rich
With Bynum? NOH shot 53% from the field and 10-18 from beyond yet still only won by 12. The Sixers actually worked the ball around and didn't turn it over. Though the deficit is tough to overcome, if the game was replayed, I don't think the Hornets can keep the Sixers at arm's length. 29/11/5/4 looks mighty nice for Jrue next to a healthy Andrew.
, and the Spurs P&R offense wreaked havoc on them. Things changed when there was a Sixers run late in the 3Q and into the 4Q. The Sixers actually took a 7 point lead at one point and looked like they could really win this game. The Spurs, who were probably bored, looked disinterested and the Sixers took advantage. It also helped that the Spurs were missing a number of good, wide open looks. Out of character for them.
It wouldn't last." - Brandon
With Bynum? *sigh* This is a tough one. I can't imagine Pop lets his guys get quite as complacent as they did had Bynum been playing. But the fact remains that the Sixers could have and should have won this game had they possessed anyone capable of settling the offense down late in the game and hitting a shot. The Sixers got reckless and lost. If Bynum played.........? Screw it. WIN.
"Jruecules: Oh, I went to Milwaukee and got crapped on all night. Just coming back now. Say, you think you could help me with any of these?
Nick Young: No. 9 looks like it's about stealing a woman's underpants, right?
Nick Young: (reaches into pocket, produces woman's underpants) Here you go. Something about me just seems to get women out of their underpants.
Jruecules: How'd you get those?
Nick Young: Swag, man." - Baumann
With Bynum? Milwaukee scored at least 27 in every quarter. They had no answer for a hot-shooting Brandon Jennings and even when he did miss, the hideous Ersan Ilyasova was there to clean him up. Both guys needed a stern talking-to and Andy B is just the guy to do it. I simply don't buy Milwaukee ever having an answer for Bynum (unless Dalembert scores 35 again?!?!?!?!?!?!), so I put this close loss in the win column for Hypothetical Us.
"I know some of you crave a rage-filled recap of the loss to the Grizzlies, but I can't give it to you. At least for one night, I can't be mad at the Sixers for being who they are, much like you can't be mad at an infant for spitting up on you. It is in their nature to be those burping Sixers and we can't throw our arms up every time, especially when they manage to make the game entertaining." - Levin
With Bynum? The happy loss I spoke of way earlier in the article, Memphis was a clear OH MAN IF WE HAD BYNUM game. Hawes, Kwame and Lavoy all played like wet butt and everybody else rocked. A reasonably competent big wins us this game. None volunteered.
So that means according to this meaningless waste of time (it literally took me a week to do this because I kept putting it off out of not wanting to revisit Sixers losses), the Sixers would go 15-11 in the games they lost this season. That'd make them 36-11. Best team in the Eastern Conference. Right between SAS and OKC for the league best.
Obviously it doesn't matter. Obviously we can't go back. Obviously we won't ever really know for sure. But I don't think too many of these Revisionist Loss Histories are absurd. That should at least give us some hope for the future.
Until the future comes, we can ramble like the schizophrenic waiting for Rapture. Only this 7-foot Rapture takes believers and non-believers all the same.
Save us, Andrew.