With an extended vacation on the horizon, NBA teams are notorious for sleepwalking through the last game before the All-Star break each season.
The Philadelphia 76ers probably aren't immune from this phenomenon, especially since the team wants nothing more than to put distance between itself and the two 40-plus point shellackings from earlier this week.
Only the Utah Jazz stand in the way of a much-needed, five-day respite for head coach Brett Brown and his charges (except for Michael Carter-Williams, who will play in Friday night's BBVA Rising Stars competition and be forced to hang out with Kevin Hart eat all of the beignets this weekend down in NOLA).
Of course, given the opponent, tonight also happens to be a crucial game in the Great Tanking Race of 2014. With little ground separating the teams at the bottom (or is it top?) of the pack, every loss is crucial.
Rookie point guard Trey Burke has injected a bit of life into the Jazz (the team is 17-22 since he returned from a broken finger in November), and with back-to-back wins against the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers to their credit, logic says that Utah should and will be victorious tonight.
Squaring off against logic tonight is a certain, unquantifiable thing that we like to call pride. The Sixers were flat-out embarrassed on Sunday and Monday, and it's only reasonable to expect the team to come out fired up...
Intense shootaround...good energy, all business. I see 12 guys (including Nerlens and Hollis/ankle) with something to prove. Impressive.— Molly Sullivan (@MollyESullivan) February 12, 2014
For what it's worth, that may have been the last "intense" shootaround for Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young as members of the 76ers. Hopefully, that intensity doesn't carry over into tonight: We've got a lottery to win.
Do it for the Vine, Sixers. A legion of fans is counting on you.