There’s no real way to break down the Sixers 141-118 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.
I could write until my hands cramp about how porous the Sixers’ rim protection was, allowing Brooklyn to score 54 points while shooting 75 percent around the basket on the night. I could discuss the utter abomination that was simply picking up assignments coming across halfcourt, partially leading the Nets to shoot 70.6 percent from three in the first half, and 64 percent as a whole. I could discuss how incomprehensible it is to allow the Brooklyn Nets, who rank 22nd in offensive efficiency and 24th in three-point shooting percentage, to score over 100 points in general, let alone 111 through three quarters.
And yet, none of that is really worth the time nor the effort. There’s nothing to evaluate about this team as a whole. They’re completely worn down, short handed, and because of injury, mostly devoid of talent.
The only thing worth discussing is the fact that the Sixers lost, and although it was done in a completely embarrassing fashion, it was something that needed to happen. The Sixers needed to lose this game.
Philadelphia had the fifth best lottery odds coming into Tuesday. They were wedged in between the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks, a single game separating them from both teams. Considering the Magic’s own blowout loss at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a Sixers victory would’ve dropped them to two games back with just four games remaining on the schedule. A loss was imperative to keeping the margin tight, and to keeping the dream of being able to select Markelle Fultz (who sat courtside at the Wells Fargo Center as the Sixers got the crap kicked out of them) alive.
Giving yourself the best chance to select the best player in the 2017 draft class is so much more important than a morale boosting victory in April. The Sixers need Fultz or Lonzo Ball or even Josh Jackson not only to just complete their young core, but to ensure that this mentality where losing games is the preferred outcome disappears for good.
This team has a ton of young talent, and on paper you’d think they should finally be able to put together a winning season next year. But after four straight years of rebuilding and trying to find superstars, it’s hard not to get agitated or downright depressed that basketball in April still means absolutely nothing to this team. These games are supposed to be played to win, and while I’m on board with the implications that come with losing, it doesn’t make the Sixers more enjoyable to watch, and it certainly doesn’t make them easier to write about. At some point it would be nice to find some substance in these games.
So yes, the Sixers loss to the Nets was for the best in the grand scheme of things. But only because it may help them draft a player that makes late regular season basketball worth watching again.
The Sixers are back in action on Thursday against the Chicago Bulls.