Oops, I thought that this was a 7:30 PM start. My apologies!
Angus Crawford ads:
A tale of two streaks: your New York Knickerbockers travel to the Liberty City to confront the inimitable PHILadelphia 76ers. After that heartwarming home triumph over Indiana on Wednesday night, the Knicks have now strung together seven straight wins, and are officially 1-0 in the PHIL Jackson era. The Sixers, however, are approaching league history (in an unenviable way), as their questionable PHILosophical approach destines the organization for the likely PHILanthropy of majestic ping-pong balls. There’s hope that the Knicks’ ceremonially welcomed new President & Godfather can put his ample PHILology to good use, and reign in the focus of the team’s PHILogynists for the good of the on-court product. Okay, I’ll stop.
To prep for tonight’s game, I fired a few questions in the direction of Tom Sunnergren, an editor of Hoop76 (a fellow TrueHoop family member). Tom’s writing has also been featured on ESPN.com, and with Bleacher Report. Also, if you’re into analytics and love a serving of stuffed stat sheets with your morning coffee, I recommend you check out Tom’s piece on “big data,” from late January. You can follow Tom on Twitter @tsunnergren and, as his bio indicates, read him in any book store… provided they have wifi.
The Sixers’ loss in Indianapolis on Monday night was their 21st consecutive defeat, setting a new franchise record. The team is 3-32 since their four game winning streak was brought to a halt on January 4, and this streak is currently at 22, with only four more losses required to match the 2010-11 Cavaliers’ feat of 26 straight L’s. Will this ever end?
Tom Sunnergren: No. Someday, someday that isn’t quite as distant as it may feel to you and I right now–when we’re young and dumb, with so much promise and confidence–you might prop your grandson on your lap and tell him that you, when your hair was still black and your back straight, saw the Philadelphia 76ers win a basketball game. And then you’ll think back on it, through the fog of old memory, and maybe allow yourself a smile.
A 102-94 home loss to Chicago brought up lucky number twenty-two, but even that game had its moments of intrigue. Philly inched within one point late in the second quarter, while the game stood as their third single-digit defeat in their past four outings. ESPN Insider’s Kevin Pelton even termed it another “moral victory.” Does it mean anything to the fans that this understaffed team has shown a little heart and hustle?
TS: Yes. I think the fans and the city are unusually supportive of this sad sack bunch. Not supportive in the sense that they’re willing to spend money on the team–the Sixers are last in the NBA in attendance– or, I guess even watch the games, or buy jerseys, or even think idly about the franchise while waiting for a bus, but…you know, I’m not sure where I’m going here. I guess the answer is no.
Since the deadline deal sending him to Indiana, Evan Turner has recorded a PER of just 10.9, an individual defensive rating of 105.5, and has been an aggregate -38 thus far in a Pacers uniform. You wrote a compelling piece back in January explaining why it was the right move for the Sixers to hold onto Turner until the very last second at the deadline (which is exactly what happened), arguing that his play was steering the tank in the right direction. How pleasing (and vindicating) is it for Philly fans to see Turner enduring similar struggles even alongside the league-leading defense?
TS: I think there’s a bit of schadenfreude happening here, but it’s not as though fans are just relishing the experience of watching him struggle and suffer. I think most people– your interlocutor here included–wanted to see Evan Turner do well and were disappointed when he didn’t. To the extent any anti-ET sentiment that exists, it springs from that. I don’t think it’s personal. He’s not Terrell Owens.
The Knicks currently lead the season series against the Sixers 2-1. Any chance MCW and the gang can rid this historic stench and square the ledger at 2-2?