One team celebrates record-setting seasons and NBA championships. The other team celebrates winning the lottery. It’s been a very different run for the NBA team that got its start in Philly and the one that’s played here more than half a century. A very different run.
The Sixers have 22 wins in 58 games this season, a winning percentage of .379. That mark is far better than last year, when head coach Brett Brown’s team won just 10 games in 82 tries. Two years ago they won 18, and 19 the year before that.
Under Brown, the Sixers are 69-235 in 304 games, heading into Monday’s home tilt with Philly’s original franchise, the Golden State Warriors. How about a “winner stays” game?
Under coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors are 189-33 in 222 games the last three seasons, winning another 31 out of the 45 playoff games they’ve played. They have two Western Conference titles and one NBA Championship crown and, at 49-9 this year, have the best record in the NBA by four games. They come into Philly riding a three-game win streak, 8-2 in their last 10 games. Oh, and they added Kevin Durant to one of the best teams in NBA history this season.
The Sixers have the fifth-worst record in the NBA this season, losing six of their last 10 games, and they just traded one of their best young players in Nerlens Noel. And Joel Embiid is still hurt. And Ben Simmons is out for the year.
But the Sixers are 14-16 at home this season, while the Warriors are just — just — 23-6 on the road. There’s a chance the Sixers, without Embiid for another few games and Simmons the season, could pull off some Wells Fargo Center magic and beat the best team in the league.
There’s a chance. There’s always a chance.
Durant didn’t play in the Dubs’ win over the Nets on Saturday, sitting with a bruised left hand. There’s a chance Kerr could sit him again, or limit his time if he does play. There’s a chance Steph Curry could be cold after his 9-for-21 performance on Saturday. Perhaps Klay Thompson, who missed 10 of his 18 shots on Saturday, could struggle as well. Draymond Green was just 1-for-10 against the Nets. Maybe he’s in a dry spell. Perchance Andre Iguodala will tie his shoelaces together and not notice until he’s on the court, allowing the Sixers a few easy buckets.
There’s always a chance. Maybe.
The Warriors have an offensive rating — estimated points per 100 possessions — of 116.5 this season, with a defensive rating of 103.9. The Sixers have an offensive rating of 102.6, with a defensive rating of 107.9. And those numbers include games where Embiid has played.
Without him, the Sixers’ offensive rating is 101.4, while their opponents drop, on average, 111.1 points per 100 possessions against them. This game probably won’t be close, and yet to their credit, the Sixers have been playing winning basketball this calendar year.
Since the turn of 2017, the Sixers are 14-12, winners of four of their last six games after the last-second heartbreaker in New York on Saturday. In those 12 losses, though, the Sixers have kept the final score to single digits just five times, losing by an an average of 12.2 points. Conversely, the games the Sixers have won have almost all been close. Even the sure-fire blowout win over the Wizards Friday turned into a close contest at the end of the game.
In their 14 wins in 2017, the Sixers have just two by double-digits, victorious by an average of just 5.6 points per game. The Warriors, since the turn of the new year, have won 20 games — in 24 tries — while winning by an average of 17.5 points.
We’ve said recently that Brett Brown should be in consideration for NBA Coach of the Year this season. If this team tonight beats the Warriors, they should hand him the trophy in the post game press conference.
It wasn’t always like this for the two franchises. As we wrote in April after the Dubs capped a record 73-9 regular season last year, the Sixers have, historically, been the more successful franchise.
The Warriors have played 71 seasons and enter Monday’s game with a 2,639-2,893 record, a .477 winning percentage. The Warriors have won four titles, just one since 1975, and have made the playoffs 33 times including each of the last four seasons.
The Sixers have played 68 seasons, but have 2,748 wins to 2,614 losses, a percentage of .512, winning three titles in 47 playoff appearances. The Sixers last won the NBA Championship in 1983, though, and haven’t made the playoffs in any of the last four seasons.
Since leaving Philadelphia after the 1962 season, the Warriors have a record of 2,081-2,348 (.470), slightly below their franchise average. The Sixers, since coming to Philly from Syracuse in 1963, have a franchise record of 2,172-2,177 (.499), themselves well below the franchise average.
What’s worse, the Warriors played in Philadelphia for just 16 seasons, winning 558 of their 1103 regular season games, a percentage of .506, or slightly better than the Sixers. The Warriors also won two titles in Philly, in 1947 and 1956, the same number in a decade and a half here as the Sixers have won in 54 years.
If these Warriors win Monday they’ll have 50 wins for the fourth-straight season. The last time the Sixers won 50 games was 2000-01, when Allen Iverson took Larry Brown’s team to the NBA Finals.
So welcome back to Philly, Dubs. Maybe, you know, stick around for a few days after the game. See if you like the place. You can have it. Do you want it? You can have it. The Sixers can move to Camden.
Please? Hello? Steph? Draymond? KD? Hello?