It was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Sixers were their fun and energetic selves who were able to keep things competitive with a playoff-bound if not impressively good Milwaukee Bucks team. In the second half, the Sixers became dull, listless, and completely incapable of making a shot or hanging onto the ball. The Sixers had made a total of five field goals in the first 16 minutes of the second half, and their six-point halftime lead became a 10-point defeat Monday night in the Wells Fargo Center.
The story of the game though was Michael Carter-Williams, and not just because he played minutes in the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since Sam Hinkie traded him at the trade deadline for the Lakers' pick. It's probably much too cliche to say he played with a chip on his shoulder, but his performance was very strong tonight. MCW shot 11-17 for 30 points with five rebounds and five assists. His shooting was efficient, proficient, and virtually everything else it wasn't during his year and a half in Philadelphia.* Good for him on having a good night, but let's not get too-riled up over it. His shooting still needs lots of work. As does his fast-break judgment.
*It must be said for before the hot takes come blazing in, just because MCW had a strong game against the Sixers does not mean the Sixers were wrong to trade him. MCW is still a bad offensive player, and one good night against one of the worst teams in the league does not change that the Lakers pick whether it conveys this year or in a future season is worth more.
Robert Covington led the Sixers in points with 25 on 6-13 shooting, while JaKarr Sampson led the Sixers in highlight reel dunks including this beauty that literally toppled Jerryd Bayless. Nerlens Noel did not play today, although the Sixers broadcast mentioned several times that he desired to play on Wednesday night. Noel's intentions may be pure, but there's Sam Hinkie carrying a chair with some rope and oh god this does not look good, folks.
The reason being of course is that the Sixers and Heat are playing in what could be a Draft Pick Bowl for the ages. The Knicks won tonight, meaning that with a Sixers loss against the Heat and a Knicks win Wednesday night against the Pistons, a team renowned for losing to the laughably bad, the Sixers and Knicks will have a coinflip to determine who has the second best odds in the 2015 Draft Lottery. And on the otherside of the coin, the Heat wn tonight while the Bulls gored the Nets. If the Heat beat the Sixers and the Nets lose to the Magic or the Pacers lose out tomorrow night and Wednesday then there will be a tie for 11th worst record and a coinflip will be had for that pick. The Sixers' picks are not dead in the water quite yet. There is a chance things get better for both their pick and the Lakers' pick, albeit extraordinarily small ones, but more than anything I believe in Stan Van Gundy's ability to lose to the Knicks. And who knows, maybe Paul George's return to the Pacers is counter-acted by facing superior opposition on back-to-back nights. Hope!
The Bucks will be content with an easy win over a bad team as they prepare for playoff life as a six-seed (!!!) in the Eastern Conference and a playoff series against the Raptors or the Bulls, the latter of which is something that should never be broadcast as a playoff series.
And meanwhile in former Team WHOP news, Vander Blue is back in the NBA, and the Association has seen it fit to give him a problem he can't handle.