Let's play the what if game. We'll rewind the clock to game six of the first round of the playoffs against Orlando last season. Suppose the Sixers had actually decided to show up for that game, won a close one against a depleted Orlando squad before succumbing to the Magic in game seven, in Orlando. Where would we be right now if that had happened?
At the time, I was crushed by that loss, but in hind sight, I think the ramifications of it are still being felt. If the Sixers hadn't collapsed on that fateful day, I'd say there's better than a 50% chance Tony DiLeo would still be coaching this team. In fact, that's the scenario I want to run with for the purposes of this post.
Andre Miller's time was probably up in Philly no matter how last season ended. The team didn't want to commit to him for three years, someone else eventually did. Let's assume the other personnel moves would've happened the same way as well. Primoz probably wouldn't have been the big added to the roster if we didn't have a complete joke for a coach, but Primoz doesn't play anyway, so let's say that's a moot point. So same roster, only Tony DiLeo is coaching, what would the Sixers' record be? Here's my best guess (Thanks to Statman from the comments earlier for the idea for this post).
- @ Orlando (loss, 106-120 | 0-1) - I'm going to say this would probably have been a loss under DiLeo as well. Orlando is a strong team, although I think DiLeo may have been able to play the "redeem yourselves" card to some degree, I don't think it would've been enough. DiLeo's Record: 0-1.
- vs. Milwaukee (win, 99-86 | 1-1) - No reason to believe DiLeo would've had worse results than Jordan did against Milwaukee on this night. The Bucks played some horrible basketball. DiLeo's Record: 1-1.
- @ New York (win, 141-127 | 2-1) - Not only is this a win under DiLeo, but there's absolutely no way it gets to overtime. Jordan's rotations were absolutely moronic in this game. DiLeo's Record: 2-1.
- vs. Boston (loss, 74-105 | 2-2) - I'm going to say this is still a loss, but this game is where Jordan first began his crusade against Elton Brand. Of the three coaches who have been at the helm during Brand's tenure with the team, only DiLeo showed any clue as to how to keep the high-octane running game in tune and integrate Brand's skills. Unfortunately, he only had Brand's services for a handful of games (the Sixers were 4-0 in games coached by DiLeo when Brand played 20+ minutes). DiLeo's Record: 2-2.
- vs. New Jersey (win, 97-94 | 3-2) - I believe DiLeo recognizes the huge mismatches the Sixers have against a depleted Nets squad. There is no way in hell Elton Brand plays only 19 minutes when he's got Bobby Simmons guarding him for a large chunk of this game. The Sixers win this in a walk. DiLeo's Record: 3-2.
- @ Detroit (loss, 81-88 | 3-3) - No way the Sixers get murdered on the glass by Ben Wallace and Sam Dalembert only plays 14 minutes with no foul trouble under DiLeo. This is a win if DiLeo is the coach, he limits Speights minutes in favor of Sam. DiLeo's Record: 4-2.
- Phoeix (loss, 115-119 | 3-4) - 21 points and 20 assists for Steve Nash on the second night of a back-to-back. Lou Williams covering him for about 33 minutes. DiLeo recognizes that Lou cannot handle the assignment and switches things up. 15/30 from three for Phoenix. I'm calling this game a win if DiLeo is coaching. DiLeo's Record: 5-2.
- @ Nets (win, 82-79 | 4-4) - See notes above, this time Brand played 23 minutes, Jason Kapono played 25. DiLeo's Record: 6-2.
- Utah (loss, 90-112 | 4-5) - This game was the beginning of the end for Jordan. Utah was without Deron Williams and they absolutely had their way with Philly's defense. Brand played 24 minutes, Speights and Jason Smith combined for 43. I'm going to say it's still a loss under DiLeo, but this one is questionable in my mind. Maynor torched Lou Williams, at this point, I think DiLeo is questioning the viability of Lou as the starting PG based on his defense. At this point, I believe Jrue's is starting to see significant minutes. DiLeo's Record: 6-3.
- @ Chicago (loss, 88-94 | 4-6) - This game was lost on the offensive end. DiLeo probably has Jrue playing more than 6 minutes, but I'm going to say it's still a loss. Jordan trimmed his rotation and actually gave Brand and Sammy close to starter's minutes. DiLeo's Record: 6-4.
- vs. Charlotte (win, 86-84 | 5-6) - The Sixers barely hung on for this win, scoring only 34 points in the second half. DNPCD for Jrue for no apparent reason. DiLeo could've done better with his eyes closed. DiLeo's Record: 7-4.
- vs. Memphis (loss, 97-102 | 5-7) - Getting murdered on the boards, Jordan goes with a small lineup for 16 minutes, including 9 minutes in the third/fourth quarters with Jason Smith at the five and Rodney Carney at the four. DiLeo is not that much of a moron. DiLeo's Record: 8-4.
- @ Cleveland (loss, 91-97 | 5-8) - DNPCD Jrue, Mo Williams' line = 18/7R/5A/3s/1TOV. Take a look at what Jrue did to Mo in their next meeting. DiLeo could've made a difference here with smarter rotations, but I won't say it would've been a win. DiLeo's Record: 8-5.
- @ Washington (loss, 107-108 | 5-9) - Defense is putrid until Jrue comes in and lights a spark in the fourth quarter. Comeback falls just short. No way Lou Williams is at the point for an entire 40-point-allowed third quarter with a real coach. DiLeo's Record: 9-5.
- @ Boston (loss, 110-113 | 5-10) - I don't know if DiLeo would've gotten the Sixers to the 4th quarter with a lead in this game, the offense was really clicking. I do know that he wouldn't have used a front court of Jason Smith, Thad Young and Jason Kapono for a seven-minute stretch in the fourth quarter trying to protect that lead. I'm giving the nod to DiLeo in this one. DiLeo's Record: 10-5.
- vs. Atlanta (loss, 86-100 | 5-11) - More minutes for Kapono than Jrue. Small lineups galore. DiLeo had success vs. the Hawks last year, but the roster was pretty depleted at this point. I'll say it's still a loss with Tony. DiLeo's Record: 10-6.
- @ San Antonio (loss, 89-97 | 5-12) - 18 minutes for Jrue "the starter" Holiday, even though he stoned Tony Parker. I can't call a road game in San Antonio with a depleted roster a win under any circumstances, though. DiLeo's Record: 10-7.
- @ Dallas (loss, 102-104 | 5-13) - Wasn't as close as it the final score, but in desperate need of a stop at the end of the game Jordan trots out a lineup of Dalembert, Thad, Kapono, Iguodala, Green. Jrue and Brand remain glued to the bench. I was going to say DiLeo pulls it out if he's coaching a tie game in that situation, then I remembered the game they lost in Dallas last season, when he had Reggie Evans on Dirk for the game-winner. DiLeo's Record: 10-8.
- @ OKC (loss, 106-117 | 5-14) - This was the most disgusting display of defense I've ever seen. Jrue Holiday shut Russell Westbrook down and the team still had a defensive efficiency rating of 130+ and coughed up nearly 50% of the available defensive rebounds. Jordan's answer to the porous defense? Willie Green led the team in minutes and he never played Dalembert and Brand on the floor at the same time. DiLeo doesn't let a game like that happen, no chance. The sad fact is that even an average defensive game gets you the win in this one. DiLeo's Record: 11-8.
- @ Charlotte (loss, 105-106 | 5-15) - 40+ minutes for Willie, 0 rebounds. 17 minutes for Sam, 27 minutes for Kapono. Any wonder they gave up 106 points to the worst offensive team in the league? DiLeo's Record: 12-8.
- vs. Denver (loss, 83-93 | 5-16) - This is a loss no matter what, Iverson thrown into the mix (and played 38 minutes). DiLeo's Record: 12-9.
- vs. Detroit (loss, 86-90 | 5-17) - Iverson's 6 turnovers and 3/10 from the field don't exactly help in a close game. Loss for either coach. DiLeo's Record: 12-10.
- vs. Houston (loss, 91-96 | 5-18) - Jrue Holiday doesn't play the entire second half, Jason Kapono plays 10 minutes after the break. Aaron Brooks lights up Willie and Iverson throughout the second half. Doesn't happen to that degree with a real coach. Win with DiLeo. DiLeo's Record: 13-10.
- vs. Golden State (win, 117-101 | 6-18) - This game is a win with the any coach, at any level, anywhere. The Sixers could've started Primoz, Smith, Kapono, Green and Ivey and come away with a win. DiLeo's Record: 14-10.
- vs. Cleveland (loss, 101-108 | 6-19) - Small lineup + late offensive subs maybe doesn't cause the loss, but certainly doesn't help. Probably still a loss with Tony. DiLeo's Record: 14-11.
- @ Boston (win, 98-97 | 7-19) - Jrue playing the entire second half on-the-ball defensively may have something to do with this win. I'm going to say it's a loss with DiLeo as coach, simply because I can't believe they won the game under any circumstances. DiLeo's Record: 14-12.
- vs. LA Clippers (loss, 107-112) - DiLeo understands what offense/defense subs are meant to do. They get one stop they needed at the end of the game. DiLeo's Record: 15-12.
- @ Washington (loss, 98-105) - Perhaps the most poorly coached game of the season for Jordan. DiLeo pulls this one out easily against a hapless Washington team. DiLeo's Record: 16-12.
Where do you think the Sixers would be right now, record-wise, if Tony DiLeo had never left the helm? Keep in mind he's got a full summer of preparation with the team and a healthy Elton Brand (after the first handful of games), two things he did not have last season as interim head coach.