Two weeks ago, friend of the blog Andrew Unterberger of The 700 Level explored how low the Sixers can go in the tanking standings. They were 22-32 and just 4 games back of Milwaukee for the 8-seed in the playoffs. Since then, they've gone 1-7, lost TWICE to the Orlando Magic, trail the Bucks by 9.5 games, and stand to own the #10 overall pick in June's NBA Draft.
So with 20 games left and a sparkling 23-39 record, it's with my head held high that I see how many goats and fawns we can offer as expiation to Lucy the Giant Tanking Octopus. Gather your water chestnuts and Milk of the Poppy and let's drift off into Tankdom in unison...
First, the Sixers. There have been whispers of late that the Sixers are actually trying to tank (despite the mainstream saying they shouldn't because THE PAST!). They would never, ever publicly say it. But judging by the hysterical lineups Doug Collins has been trotting out there, maybe the intensity is just a front. Maybe ownership has secretly told Doug to play to lose and he'll keep his job. Maybe Jrue Holiday, who has played like roasted balls, is on bended knee in front of Lucy in all her merciful glory.
Probably not. They just suck.
Tonight vs. Brooklyn Nets -- Second game of a back-to-back. LOSS.
Wednesday vs. Miami Heat -- bahahahahhaha. LOSS.
Saturday vs. Indiana Pacers -- Lots of time to plan for this one, but still a LOSS.
3/18 vs. Portland Trail Blazers -- They'll have lost 8 straight games coming into this one. Portland tanks hard. I'll say WIN.
3/20 @ Lob City -- YOU LEAVE BRANDON KNIGHT OUT OF THIS. LOSS.
3/21 @ Denver Nuggets -- Andre Iguodala drops 45 on 20-20 free throw shooting. LOSS.
3/24 @ Sacramento Kings -- This would be a huge loss. Akis Yerocostas informs me it'll be an emotional Here We Buy night in Sactown, so I'll take the emotion. LOSS.
3/25 @ Utah Jazz -- Utah will be fighting for the 8th seed, it's a second of a b2b, and all those tall gentleman in SLC are hard to cover. LOSS.
3/27 vs. Milwaukee Bucks -- Our spiritual brethren in 8th seed-dom will grant us with a loss. LOSS.
3/29 @ Cleveland Cavaliers -- Hopefully Kyrie Irving is back by then. The Sixers don't win on the road. I'll be optimistic. LOSS.
3/30 vs. Charlotte Bobcats -- This would be legendary. It *is* the second night of a b2b, but the Bobcats Theorem applies. WIN.
4/3 @ Charlotte Bobcats -- AGAIN?! Screw it. LOSS.
4/5 @ Atlanta Hawks -- I fell asleep just typing this. LOSS.
4/6 @ Miami Heat -- Hahahahahahahahahahahahaahah YES ALWAYS. LOSS.
4/9 @ Brooklyn Nets -- HOVA. LOSS.
4/10 vs. Atlanta Hawks -- Jesus, it's just the Hawks/Heat/Nets on repeat, huh? LOSS.
4/12 @ Washington Wizards -- This is a big stretch of three games here. Let's say one of Jrue or Thad will be "hurt" by now. LOSS.
4/14 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers -- Sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. WIN.
4/15 @ Detroit Pistons -- Detroit always screws us. Always. I bet the Sixers win this one just to eff everything up. WIN.
4/17 @ Indiana Pacers -- Even against 40 garbage time minutes of Tyler Hansbrough, they can't beat this team. LOSS.
So that potential 4-16 leaves the Sixers at 27-55 for the season. As luck would have it, that's the exact record of the 2010 Eddie Jordan Sixers, which netted them the 6th best chance at winning the lottery and Evan Turner at #2. It would be so, so sweet to finish with that exact record. I've just realized it's all I want in this world. Vindication for Eddie Jordan.
They will not out-tank the Bobcats. Let's assume Toronto will suck less than the Sixers. But for the other 8 teams below them, there's a shot. And now for some baseless predictions:
Detroit Pistons - 23-42, 9th in Lottery Standings
The absence of Andre Drummond hurts. They've said he won't come back on this road trip, which includes games against Utah, Golden State, and Portland. Like Minnesota, they've lost 8 of 9. Maybe that's why the Sixers haven't gained much Lotto ground despite losing 12 of their last 13 games. But once Drummond gets back and providing Greg Monroe is healthy, a young core of Monroe-Drummond-Brandon Knight (RIP) anchored by the veteran but assisty Jose Calderon should be able to steal a few games from unsuspecting playoff teams. Maybe.
Dumb Prediction: 6-11. Final Record: 29-53.
Minnesota Timberwolves - 21-39, 8th in Lottery Standings
I really want the Wolves to be good. I like a lot of their players. They have a nice color scheme. Brandon Roy. Lots of things going for them. But when your top five in total points this season are Nikola Pekovic, Luke Ridnour, Derrick Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, and JJ Barea, there's a problem. Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio (<3) need to stay healthy. No telling when Love will get back, but they've got a slightly tougher schedule the rest of the way (11 home, 11 road, 5 back-to-back's, just 7 sub-.500 teams) and they've lost 8 of their last 9.
Dumb Prediction: 8-14. Final Record: 29-53.
Phoenix Suns - 22-41, 7th in Lottery Standings
Oh God, the Suns. They've won 4 of 6, with losses strangely coming to Toronto and Sacramento while beating Atlanta, San Antonio, Minnesota, and Houston. Obviously. Maybe the most bizarrely constructed team in the league or ever, the Suns don't really count on anybody to carry them (because that person does not exist) but they roll deep -- in the Houston win, 10 guys played at least 15 minutes. Hopefully the Morris Brothers can steal some more wins for us.
Dumb Prediction: 6-13. Final Record: 28-54.
New Orleans Hornets - 22-42, 6th in Lottery Standings
They stole one from Portland last night, which was excellent. With a healthy Eric Gordon (he didn't play last night though) and Anthony Davis, the team is weird enough to win some games with their terribly slow pace and strangely bad defense. Ryan Anderson has been just okay lately, but with Austin Rivers hurt and Davis back, maybe he'll get to camp out on the wing and knock down threes like it's his job. Because it is. Al-Farouq Aminu has been solid adjacent as well. I'm grasping at straws here guys.
Dumb Prediction: 6-12. Final Record: 28-54.
Sacramento Kings - 22-43, 5th in Lottery Standings
I feel bad even writing about the Kings. The entire fanbase is rightfully more concerned with other things. But meanwhile, they've come close to beating a bunch of teams without doing much. They're 3-10 since beating the Jazz and Rockets back to back a month ago. They almost came back to beat Milwaukee last night, but a combined 18-20 free three shooting night from Brandon Jennings and Monta (he who have it all) Ellis to go with some ugly 4-16 shooting from Isaiah Thomas gave Sacramento the L. You really never know what to expect from this talented but batshit crazy group of humans. Sorry, Patrick Patterson.
Dumb Prediction: 6-11. Final Record: 28-54.
Cleveland Cavaliers - 21-42, 4th in Lottery Standings
The only team among us who prays to their own Tanking Octopus, the Cavs are set up to acquire another stud to go with Kyrie and their hodge-podge of young oddities. Maybe Dion Waiters is okay? Such a shame that Varejao is hurt, otherwise they'd be much, much better. Maybe Mo Speights will elevate them above the other teams right in this mix. We'll know more about Kyrie's shoulder injury today at some point but I bet they play it safe and barely play him. Sucks because they've been okay (5-5) lately.
Dumb Prediction: 6-13. Final Record: 27-55.
Washington Wizards - 20-41, 3rd in Lottery Standings
The Wiz are back to their old weird tricks since Bradley Beal went down. He should be back soon, but they've lost 4 of 6 after winning 7 of 9. They're surprisingly good on defense with some athletic forwards getting their arms in the way of things before Emeka Okafor's paint. If Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster stay warm from deep and John Wall can get to the basket, they'll get back to winning once Beal returns.
Dumb Prediction: 7-14. Final Record: 27-55.
Orlando Magic - 18-46, 2nd in Lottery Standings
Well the Sixers have certainly done their part in making Orlando better. But other than that, they're a lot of Nikola Vucevic standing under the rim waiting for rebounds and not defending. I'm going to give them a win over Dwight Howard because I can.
Dumb Prediction: 5-13. Final Record: 23-59
DUMB THEORETICAL FINAL STANDINGS
1. Charlotte (0-82 or something)
2. Orlando (23-59)
3A. Washington (27-55)
3B. Cleveland (27-55)
3C. PHILADELPHIA (27-55!)
6A. Phoenix (28-54)
6B. New Orleans (28-54)
6C. Sacramento (28-54)
9A. Minnesota (29-53)
9B. Detroit (29-53)
So yeah, every loss counts. Was I a little generous to some teams? Sure. But if you can't feel a Goran Dragic and Alexey Shved hot streak in the winds, you need to see a doctor. It's brisk out here, baby.
We continue to live in your name, oh great Lucy the Giant Tanking Octopus. You created us in your image. Deliver us to salvation and a top 5 draft pick.