That just kind of sucked. Because of the juxtaposition of the Sixers and Bucks in last year's lottery, and now because of the Michael Carter-Williams trade, these two teams will always have their rebuilding projects compared, and while I steadfastly believe the Sixers to be taking the higher-upside path, it'd be nice to see them go to Milwaukee once and not get an enthusiastic boot in the danglers.
However, as is the Sixers' custom against the Bucks, they played a sloppy, ugly game and lost by double digits. Their fate was sealed early as Carter-Williams, who went on to record eight assists in 17 minutes, made his first three shots, while his replacements, Isaiah Canaan and Ish Smith, just looked small and lost for most of the game. The Sixers turned the ball over 19 times in the first half and trailed 29-12 after the first quarter and 43-17 in the second--they were just never in it to start, and by the time they woke up and began to be able to hold their own against the Bucks, they were down by too many points with too few minutes left to play.
There were some positives--circus shots by Canaan; the effectiveness of Jason Richardson and Robert Covington playing the wings together in the fourth quarter (Covington scored 13 points on 4 of 6 shooting in 19 minutes, while Richardson had a team-high 16 on 6-of-11 in 25 minutes); and the bull-wearing-body-armor-and-toting-a-bazooka-in-a-china-shop offensive rebounding of newcomer Thomas Robinson, who was energetic to the point of frightening in his 13-minute shift.
But all of that is offset by negatives--Covington gave up on his man in the first quarter, leading to an easy dunk, which led to a furious Brett Brown calling for time immediately, then casting Covington to xibalba for the entirety of the second and third quarters. The Sixers' bigs were uniformly unable to handle the ball, which is nothing new, I guess, and it was exacerbated by Ish Smith taking the ball and dribbling...and dribbling...then dribbling into a double team, then backing out, then chucking the ball as hard as he could at the head or knees of whatever center had the misfortune of being on the floor. In his 15 minutes on the--holy shit, Ish Smith only played 15 minutes? It felt like a fucking eternity. I was born and died, and my descendants colonized planets orbiting distant stars in the time I watched Ish Smith tool around the court, in service of God only knows what purpose. Or that's what it felt like.
Smith wore this one on the internet a little, but it's unfair to blame him--this was a truly egalitarian loss. Eleven Sixers played, and every single one scored a field goal, though nobody topped Richardson's 16 points. Eight Sixers committed turnovers. Six of them committed three or more, and Smith, Canaan and Noel each turned the ball over five--FIVE--times. And fair enough, every passing lane was full of arms, which is what happens when you face a team as uniformly long as Milwaukee, but there were plenty of bad shots, travels, offensive fouls, and careless passes.
It's like Nietzche said: "And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you, then the abyss jumps into your passing lane and goes the other way for an easy bucket."