The honeymoon is over for the Philadelphia 76ers. What was once a promising season hit a new low against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, April 4. The 76ers managed a mere 22 points in the second half of a 99-78 loss to the Toronto Raptors on their home floor. It was the second embarrassing loss in less than a week after the 76ers dropped an ugly game to the Washington Wizards on March 30. At this point, the 76ers look more like a team that is going to be swept in the first round than a team that is ready to win the division. As a fan, I have to start wondering if this season will ever get back on track.
When the 76ers were 20-9, all was going well. Everything was clicking as they raced to a substantial lead in the Atlantic Division. The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks were struggling and the city was buzzing about the prospect of the 76ers making a run to the conference finals. Since that time, the 76ers are 9-16 and have lost control of the division. They seem to be headed toward a first round series with either the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat. We have a coach that doesn't have a lot of faith in his starting guard. We have a team that can't find any measure of consistency. The formerly dominant bench has become a concern. All of these things are real problems. The excitement about the 76ers that was there early in 2012 has vaporized.
As fans, we have to be fair. Entering the season, the realistic expectation for this team was to push to win the division and they can still do that. It might not seem likely given how they have played lately, but all it takes is a little run. Can the 76ers do that? The fan in me believes that they can but as a realist I can't think of a specific reason why. The best thing I can say is that the team was talented enough to win 20 of their first 29 games and there is something to that. If the 76ers can get some of that back, they might make a run at the Celtics. But if the recent trend continues, the 76ers will be forced to look at the entire roster in the offseason and make some major changes.
* - Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong 76ers fan.
- Toronto Raptors