The Philadelphia Eagles lost their Wild Card round game to the Seattle Seahawks yesterday. While that’s bad news for many fans in the City of Brotherly Love, there’s one good bit of news: under the transitive property of Philadelphia sports, the Eagles losing means the Sixers are now allowed to win again.
The Sixers could certainly use whatever change in mojo the sports gods want to throw their way. After winning on Christmas Day, Philadelphia hit the road and promptly lost four straight games, spanning the full gamut of types of losses. They had the “trap game” loss in Orlando, the “let one slip away” loss in Miami, the “didn’t bother showing up” in Indiana, and the “maybe they’re just not good enough” defeat in Houston.
As poorly as things are going for the Sixers, they’re going that well for the Thunder. Oklahoma City has won five straight games, moving to 20-15 on the season to establish a firm foothold in seventh place in the Western Conference, just two games back of sixth place.
Heading into the season, everyone kind of assumed Oklahoma City would sluice off their veteran parts and lean even harder into the full rebuild, wanting for all those draft picks arrive. Danilo Gallanari on an expiring deal? There would be a long list of suitors. Steven Adams with two years left at $25-plus million? A little trickier. Chris Paul with his enormous contract? Maybe Miami?
But instead, everything has gelled perfectly. Chris Paul is playing extremely well, not too far off his career per-36 numbers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has thrived in his new home, playing more off ball and leading the team in scoring at 19.9 points per game. Surprisingly, Dennis Schroder is having easily his most shooting season of his career at 47.0 percent from the field, and lineups with all three point guards on the court as once have been very effective.
Right now, the Thunder are having their cake and eating it too. They are as well-stocked for the future as any franchise in the league, but are currently enjoying a competitive team boosted by a handful of veterans that seems set to be a tough out in the postseason.
These clubs met back on November 15, a game the Thunder won in overtime, 127-119. Tonight would be a good time for the Sixers to avoid a repeat of that earlier result. They need Joel Embiid to regain his joy. They need accountability in the locker room. They need Al Horford to go back to being Al Horford. Most of all, they need a win.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
When: 7:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Matisse Thybulle (out - knee)
Oklahoma City: Nerlens Noel (out - ankle); Andre Roberson (out - knee)