It was great to see the Sixers overcome a few obstacles and put Washington away last night, but it's imperative they don't lose their focus, not even for a second. The rest of this week is much more important for this team than most four-game stretches against bad teams.
We've spoken a great deal about perception where the Sixers are concerned, and how they've played against the bad teams vs. the good teams. Those things matter if you're talking about being a contender, however you define that, but in reality they don't mean nearly as much as the basic math. The basic math being wins and losses.
When you're talking about seeding, which the Sixers will be talking about in a couple of months, a win is a win is a win. If the Sixers take the #3 seed by one game, it doesn't matter if the win came via a buzzer-beater against the Thunder or a 20-point blowout against the Wizards on a random Monday night. They all count. Whether they're a contender or a pretender is irrelevant at this point of the season.
The Sixers are focused on winning the Atlantic Division and securing home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. That is the goal. The fact of the matter is that they need to stockpile as many wins as possible during this favorable portion of the schedule because it's going to get much, much harder very quickly.
Next Monday, the Sixers will begin a stretch of seven games with a combined record of 81-38 (a .681 winning percentage). Six of those games are at home (ORL, MIA, LAL, LAC, SAS, CHI at home, ATL on the road), but you'd still have to say it's a stretch to expect the Sixers to win four of the seven. Finish this week out, take the three games heading into Monday and you're talking about 8-3 or 7-4 if you split those games 4-3 or 3-4. Drop one or two to these bad teams and the math suddenly looks bleak.
Test games, or test stretches are great fodder for bloggers, writers and readers to try to add context to the win/loss record, but when we're talking about seeding, they're worth just as much as a Wednesday night game against the lowly Nets. It's vitally important the Sixers continue to stockpile these wins against bad teams if they're going to reach their goals.
So after a 20-point win over the Washington Wizards minus your two centers, the mindset is simple. Great job, now do it again...and again...and again.