The date is April 2, 2016, and Elton Brand is playing crunch-time minutes for the Philadelphia 76ers. If you had told me on the day the Sixers traded Jrue Holiday and thereby committed to a complete teardown and rebuild of their franchise that this is where we’d be exactly 1,011 days in, I probably would have laughed… Then I would have cried.
The last three years have felt like an eternity, but with light finally shining from the end of this dark and seemingly endless tunnel, I, like most of you, am just trying to get through these next half dozen games with my sanity intact. At 9-68, the Sixers need one more win over their final five games to avoid matching the all-time mark for impotency originally set by a 9-73 Philadelphia squad in 1972-73. On Saturday night, it looked like the Sixers might finally eek out their tenth win of the year after dropping 11 straight games, but poor execution down the stretch allowed the Indiana Pacers to put Philadelphia away in the game’s final minutes.
After trailing by 18 midway through the third quarter, the Sixers went on a nice run capped by *this Nik Stauskas poster jam on Myles Turner (ACTUALLY!) to take a 77-74 lead into the fourth. With 4:37 left in the final frame, the score was knotted up at 98 apiece, but from that point on the Pacers outscored the Sixers 17-4, coasting to a 115-102 victory.
The Sixers were led by Isaiah Canaan, who scored 24 points (7/15 FG, 5/12 3P, 5/7 FT) in a season-high 39 minutes. Jerami Grant was supposed to be limited to 25 minutes due to injury but played 37 (lol) and notched 20 points (6/17 FG, 3/6 3P, 5/9 FT), nine rebounds, three assists, and a block. Carl Landry added 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 23 minutes, and Elton Brand hauled in 10 rebounds and had four assists to go along with a couple points in 23 minutes off the bench. Nerlens Noel (knee) and Richaun Holmes (Achilles) didn’t suit up.
The team is off until Tuesday, when it hosts the Pelicans in an admittedly must-lose game (New Orleans and Sacramento are jockeying for lottery position down the stretch). With home games against the Knicks and Bucks and road meetings with the Raptors and Bulls remaining before the season comes to a close, hope is dwindling fast that the team can get another win and avoid bookending the season with 1-30 stretches.