COMMENTARY | Wins are going to be rare for the Philadelphia 76ers this season.
Twenty-five of them would be a great year. Thirty? Pop some champagne and lift a championship banner in the Wells Fargo Center on Broad Street in South Philadelphia.
Seriously. The Sixers are a bad bunch. Brett Brown knows. The players know. The rest of the league knows, too.
They're in the million-dollar sweepstakes for freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins, who, by the way, debuted last night and scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 97-57 Kansas Jayhawks rout over Pittsburg State.
As expected, the 76ers were outclassed during the preseason. They finished 2-5.
Their two wins were against Bilbao of Spain (106-104) and the Rajon Rondo-less Boston Celtics (97-85). Three of their five losses were blowouts to the Brooklyn Nets (127-97), Charlotte Bobcats (110-84) and Minnesota Timberwolves (125-102).
Their final 15-man roster is: Lavoy Allen, James Anderson, Kwame Brown, Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Davies, Spencer Hawes, Darius Morris, Arnett Moultrie, Nerlens Noel, Daniel Orton, Jason Richardson, Hollis Thompson, Evan Turner, Tony Wroten and Thaddeus Young.
No big names. No superstars. No chance at winning many games this season.
That's what makes the 76ers' opener at 7 p.m. tonight at home against the Miami Heat (1-0) look like a laugher.
It's David vs. Goliath. It's the two-time defending NBA champion Heat's Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh vs. the Sixers' Big 3 of Carter-Williams, Turner and Young. It's Erik Spoelstra, who has coached Miami to three straight NBA Final appearances, vs. Sixers rookie head coach Brown, who was just hired in mid-August.
Stop! Enough of the pessimism.
Isn't this the pros, where grown men cash big checks to play a kids' game they love and have been playing their whole lives?
The Sixers aren't going to just roll over for 82 games, according to Young, who is probably the team's best player. They're going to compete night in and night out, regardless of the opponent.
Tonight can be Any Given Wednesday in South Philadelphia.
And, yes, one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, Allen Iverson, is in the Sixers' corner. A.I. will be in the house and is expected to officially, and finally, announce his retirement from the league.
If any one could ignite the 76ers briefly and rile up a Philly crowd for just one game, it would be The Answer.
And, yes, the NBA schedule makers. They, too, apparently are rooting one night for the Sixers. They likely felt sorry for them this season and did them an early favor tonight.
This is the first game for the young 76ers, and it's conveniently at home.
Meanwhile, the Heat fly into town this afternoon after a long, exhausting opening day yesterday in South Beach. Could they possibly be overlooking the rebuilding Sixers?
The Heat received their NBA championship rings and raised their second straight NBA championship banner in a special ceremony before tip-off last night. After the celebration, they played an emotional game in which they won, 107-95, against Derrick Rose and their Eastern Conference rival Chicago Bulls.
So, do the 76ers have a chance to win tonight against the champs and start the season 1-0?
No. Not really.
Prediction: Miami Heat 98, Philadelphia 76ers 77.
Dwayne C. Nelson lives in Philadelphia and has been a Sixers follower since the days of Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones. Follow him at dcntweets.
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