It's not that the Sixers have collectively cashed in this season that bothers me. It's not that they look like an NBADL team out there that keeps me up at night. I can deal with bad teams. I've dealt with them in the past. There's always been a reason to watch. The thing that makes this season so unbelievably unbearable is that they had to start out so well. They had to plant that seed of false hope, only to fall to pieces in front of our eyes. I'm sure it's not the case, but when you watch them get beat up by the Magic without Dwight, you can't help but say to yourself, "They don't even care." (game capsule)
Here's your rotation chart. Note the team played pretty well in the first eight minutes, only allowing 14 points. Then Spencer Hawes came in and Orlando scored 47 points over the next 16 minutes all with Hawes "manning" the middle:
This game was an abomination from pretty early on. Jodie Meeks and Spencer Hawes kept the Sixers from having about a 15-point lead in the first quarter, then led the charge to a complete defensive collapse in the second quarter. The details are pretty immaterial at this point, this team isn't sinking, they've sunk. And they know it.
Doug Collins has officially taken the "master of panic" mantle from Stan Van Gundy, and he's wringing the life out of it. With a back-to-back-to-back on the schedule, Collins cut Nikola Vucevic out of his rotation and went with a 7-man rotation, plus 32 minutes of Spencer Hawes. No one got rest. The short-handed Magic didn't have to deal with fresh legs at any point. Collins managed to coach tonight as if it was the 7th game of the Finals and put the team in an even worse spot heading into the next two games. That's quite an accomplishment.
The players have seemingly packed it in. The coach is clearly panicking. The only question is whether there are enough games left in the season for the Sixers to fall completely out of the playoff picture.
Player of The Game: Jrue. 7/15 from the floor for 18 points. 8 dimes, 2 steals, 2 blocks and zero turnovers. Jrue actually looked like a point guard tonight, which is probably why Collins had him stand in the corner for most of the second half, the rest of the time he was on the bench.
Team Record: 31-29
Up Next: vs. IND, tomorrow night