This game between the Suns and the Sixers, one that could be a 2022 NBA Finals matchup in one possible future timeline, was overshadowed. The Sixers fell to Phoenix 114-109, but fans’ minds are elsewhere.
Two contenders were gutting it out in South Philly and all I could think about is a slightly flabby bearded man (not trying to throw stones in glass houses!) taking the Amtrak to 30th Street Station from New York City. If the Sixers had held that lead they egregiously blow or had come firing back and pulled out a win in the fourth quarter, it might have received “Game of the Year” billing alongside the Sixers’ victory over the Grizzlies on Jan. 31. Sigh.
Still, all of Sixers Twitter might cease to exist if James Harden doesn’t end up a Sixer by 3:01 p.m. ET on Thursday. The Twitter Spaces that’s hosted afterwards would be a meltdown of epic proportions. That is by far the most important Sixers moment this week, more so than this lone game.
It’s so hard to put this loss into the proper context given the Harden cloud hanging over the organization. There are less than 48 hours until the NBA trade deadline. The Sixers hung tough against the team that has the best record in the league. Several players, ranging from Danny Green to Matisse Thybulle to Tobias Harris, may have played their last games in a Sixers uniform. End of an era?
It would’ve been freaking electric to pull off this win. It would be such a boost ahead of dealing with an infinite amount of rumors over and over until Thursday afternoon. Imagine soaking up the vibes of beating a team that was in the Finals last season and sits atop their own conference and adding a former MVP and future Hall of Famer along the way. Sigh.
Some other thoughts from the Sixers’ loss:
What’s going on with Seth Curry? If he’s battling through an injury, it’s clearly hampering him. Going into tonight, he has shot just 33.8 percent from the floor and a disgusting 28.1 percent from deep (9-32). Curry has missed five games intermittently during that stretch while dealing with ankle soreness. It’s only getting worse, as he shot just 1-9 from the floor and 1-6 from deep. It was rough to watch him play like that given how beloved he’s been in this city. I’m sure he’ll end up in Brooklyn tomorrow in a Harden trade and make eight threes in a quarter against the Sixers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Book it!
Was tonight Tobias Harris’ last game in a Sixers uniform? If so, it was a nice farewell for a polarizing, good-not-great player, who, fortunately for his bank account, but unfortunately for his reputation, got handed a gigantic bozo contract that was impossible for him to live up to from the moment he signed it. I’ve joked over the years (how has he been on the Sixers for three years already?) that Harris has had two modes as a Sixers: Nuggets-era Carmelo Anthony and Rockets-era Carmelo Anthony. Harris was the former against Phoenix, attacking the rim in a way I can’t remember him doing previously in Philly and actually showcased some semblance of a pulse in the fourth quarter. He finished with 30 points in the loss.
Tobias has never been a walking bucket. Maybe he’s a limping bucket though. See ya later, pal.
- Do. Not. Trade. Tyrese. Maxey. If he’s a Net by Thursday night, I’m... well, I’m not going to claim that I will lock myself to the Sixers’ practice facility or anything, but I’ll for sure be pissed and I’m sure many, many other Sixers fans will share that sentiment.
- Andre Drummond tried to dump water out of the Sixers’ sinking ship in the fourth quarter as the Suns were gaining control of the game. He put together a funky 4-7-5-3 stat line in 16 minutes. Dwight Howard obviously had a Hall of Fame career before he came to Philly and Richaun Holmes has blossomed in Sacramento, but is Drummond the best backup center Joel Embiid has had? I’m speaking in terms of how those dudes perform when they’ve been actually playing for the Sixers specifically.
- I’ll close with this: I’m hoping this roster looks much different come Friday night when the Sixers host the Cavaliers. Every Sixers fan does. Prime example: Furkan Korkmaz running point with the second unit should be illegal for a team with championship aspirations and the should-be league MVP on their roster. He has a role on this team, but it certainly shouldn’t be that. It has a trickle down effect on the rest of the rotation and hampers the team’s ability to survive in the minutes Embiid isn’t on the court. Blame it on the front office for the roster construction. Blame it on Doc Rivers, who’s apparently one of the top-15 coaches in the history of basketball, for continuing to trot out lineups that have no shot at success. Whatever it is, it simply cannot continue.