We've all heard of moral victories. They're supposed to be games you don't win, but you do something that's worthwhile, something you can take away from the game to build upon in the future. Basketball is often a game of momentum, possibly more so than the other sports, but that's in-game momentum. Does it carry over from game to game? Yes, I think so. This is what worried me about the Sixers.
If you can have moral victories, then can't you have just soul-crushing losses? I mean, I wasn't on the court, I didn't play my heart out on Monday night. I have so much less invested in the game than the guys who put the jersey on and take the court, but I'm having a hard time bouncing back from that loss. How are they going to handle it?
The Sixers have been in this situation more often than any other team in the league. They seem to be snake bit, cursed, doomed and jinxed. The hope is that these crushing losses build character. The fear is that one of them is going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
For a team built on hustle and effort, the cumulative effect of these losses could be monumental. To be successful, they have to believe that they can overcome anything by playing hard. When you play 48 minutes at max effort only to see the game slip away in the last couple of seconds time and time again ... well, I just hope they're a resilient bunch.
If you're a glass half-full personality, we can look at the lessons learned in each of these losses.
- Don't help off Rashard Lewis
- Don't help off Ray Allen
- Don't put Reggie Evans on Dirk for the game-losing possession.
- Box out Tony Parker on last-second shots
- Don't go 10+ minutes without a field goal against the Nets.
- Don't give T.J. Ford a wide-open look from 15 feet.
- Don't leave Kenyon Martin wide open for a dunk.
- Block Devin Harris' last-second heave twice, because once just isn't enough.
Honestly, though, there are only two lessons they need to learn:
- Missed free throws come back to haunt you.
- Teams desperately trying to comeback are going to shoot threes, if you don't adjust your defense accordingly, and you can't hit threes on your end of the floor, those comebacks are going to happen again and again. (The Nets were 4/8 from three in the fourth on Monday).
Here's the sad thing, though. The Sixers applied one of their learned lessons at the end of the Nets game. When they went up two points on the Speights shot in the post, they came down and over-played the three point line. First Harris faked a three, and Ivey was all over him. Then Vince Carter faked a three, which Iguodala was all over. They weren't going to allow NJ to take a three to beat them. Unfortunately, Carter used the fake to get all the way to the hoop for the tie. Still, it was a lesson learned, and it still should've resulted in a win.
Later today I'll have a brief pregame for the Wizards game tonight, but before we get to that, I have to say one thing. This team needs a win. More than that, they need a blowout. A laugher. I'm talking about 12 minutes of Kareem Rush and Iguodala on the bench for the fourth laughing with his teammates. They need a game that isn't a dogfight for 48 minutes. They're playing possibly the worst team in the league, get it done tonight.