Philadelphia’s week to avoid ignominy has arrived
MIAMI (AP) — Good luck, Philadelphia.
The 76ers will need it to avoid NBA ignominy.
To avoid getting off to the first 0-19 start in NBA history, Philadelphia must beat San Antonio, Minnesota or Oklahoma City before Friday. As if things weren’t bad enough, they’re mired in a seven-game skid against the Spurs, a five-game slide against the Timberwolves and have lost 10 straight against the Thunder.
No, the odds are not with Philadelphia right now, and the sheer magnitude of the losing is staggering.
The 76ers have lost 22 straight games against Western Conference teams, doing so by a daunting average of 21 points per game — which isn’t a good sign for a team that will play its next three against teams from the stronger side of the league.
The 76ers have seven wins in their last 65 games. The Philadelphia Eagles have seven wins in their last 10.
At 0-16, the 76ers already have the fourth-worst start in NBA history. Lose to the NBA champion Spurs on Monday, and the 76ers will tie the 1999 Clippers and 1988 expansion Heat for the second-worst, 0-17.
The New Jersey Nets are the not-so-proud owners of this particular record, going 0-18 to start the 2009-10 season.
Finally, while all this is bad, things could actually get worse for the 76ers.
If they lose all 14 of their games in December, they’ll finish 2014 with a 10-72 mark. That would surpass the Dallas Mavericks, whose 11-73 mark in 1993 represents the worst full-calendar-year record in NBA history.
Winning once would save Philly from that dubious distinction.
Besides Philadelphia’s quest to avoid making history, here’s some of what to watch in the NBA this week:
PIERCE’S WEEK: Washington’s Paul Pierce gets to renew acquaintances with Kobe Bryant on Wednesday when the Lakers visit the Wizards, and Pierce’s third trip to Boston as an opponent is on Sunday. Pierce enters this week 52 points behind Reggie Miller for 16th on the NBA’s career scoring list.
SPURS-GRIZZLIES: The defending champions go to Memphis on Friday night, a matchup of two of the West’s current frontrunners. Memphis comes into the week an NBA-best 15-2, and the two losses — both on the road — were by a total of five points. The Grizzlies led both of those games in the final moments.
SKIDDING EAST: It’s not only Philadelphia that’s in a freefall in the East right now. Charlotte enters the week on a nine-game slide (including four losses by 20 points or more), and Detroit has dropped its last eight games. It’s possible that when the 76ers and Pistons play Friday night, Philly could have lost 18 straight, and Detroit could be on a 10-game slide.
CAVS IN CANADA: Preseason Eastern Conference favorite Cleveland heads north on Friday to take on East-leading Toronto, which will be without All-Star and leading scorer DeMar DeRozan because of a torn left groin tendon.
GETTING HEALTHIER: Even with DeRozan out for presumably a few weeks, some star power is back. Derrick Rose has appeared in four straight Chicago games (he did leave one early) for the first time in just over a year, and Dwyane Wade returned to the Miami lineup at New York on Sunday night after missing seven games with a strained left hamstring.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK
Stephen Curry, Golden State: He had 40 points against Miami on Nov. 25, finishing with at least five assists and five 3-pointers made for the 51st time in his career — one more than the previous NBA record, held by Ray Allen. For good measure, Curry eclipsed five assists and five 3′s the next night at Orlando, as well.