After a historically long drought, the 76ers have finally won two straight games

In the cinema classic “Major League II,” winner of the 1994 Academy Award for Best Picture*, Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown (James Gammon) tries to motivate his struggling team to build on a brief bright spot by reminding them that big things can come from small starts:

* NOTE: Might not actually be true.

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Winning streaks have happened before. But they hadn’t happened for the Philadelphia 76ers — not for quite a long time.

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As a result of the years-long tear-it-down-to-the-studs rebuilding process — sorry: “Process” — overseen by since-ousted Sixers general manager/submarine commander Sam Hinkie, in which Philly fielded almost comically talent-poor and overmatched teams that would lose as many games as possible in an attempt to snag potential game-changers at the top of the draft, the franchise entered Monday night with a record of 50-209 since the start of the 2013-14 season. After opening this year with seven straight losses, though, the Sixers have started to look a bit more like a real NBA team over the past two weeks, splitting a home-and-home with the Indiana Pacers and following blowout road losses to the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves with home wins over the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns.

That Phoenix win came on Saturday night, meaning the 76ers entered Monday’s matchup with the Miami Heat with a chance to get one step closer to that ever-elusive winning streak … and they did just that:

With light of our lives and fruit of Hinkie’s toil Joel Embiid leading the way, and veterans Gerald Henderson and Ersan Ilyasova chipping in, the Sixers outlasted the Heat for a 101-94 win.

Miami center Hassan Whiteside did his level best to carry the day, scoring a career-high 32 points on 13-for-19 shooting with 13 rebounds and two blocks:


But the Heat cratered on both ends when he sat down and the Sixers took advantage, giving Philly its first back-to-back wins in a really, really long time. Like, historically long.

(I hereby nominate March 20, 2015 — a date that saw a total solar eclipse, a supermoon, an equinox and a Hinkie-era squad win its second straight game — as an all-time weird day in the Celestial Register.)


“They were talking about that this morning at shootaround,” said Henderson, who scored 19 points on just eight shots, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I asked the guys if they won back-to-back games last year. There was a quick no. But hey, it’s a new year, man.”

And the dawn of a new era, with Embiid in the middle.

Joel Embiid drinks in the adulation of Sixers fans like a sweet, sweet Shirley Temple. (AP)
Joel Embiid drinks in the adulation of Sixers fans like a sweet, sweet Shirley Temple. (AP)

The 2014 NBA draft’s No. 3 pick continued to impress, scoring a team-high 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting, pulling down five rebounds, blocking three shots and snagging one steal in 23 still-limited yet seemingly limitless minutes in the win. After a stint on the bench, Embiid re-entered with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 91; he promptly drew Whiteside’s fifth foul, sending the Miami big man to the bench and earning a pair of free throws to put Philly back in front. He’d draw three fouls and make five of six freebies down the stretch, helping the Sixers push the Heat out of striking distance to earn their fourth straight win at Wells Fargo Center.


While Whiteside certainly got his licks in on Monday, that didn’t stop the ever-eager and social-media-savvy Embiid from poking a little fun at his vanquished opponent. Check out the location of Embiid’s post-game Instagram post:

Scarcely seems the appropriate avian protein on this of all weeks, but I’m sure Shaq approves, if nothing else.

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Next up for the Sixers: a Wednesday night meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies, who smoked the Charlotte Hornets on Monday and have won their last five games, outscoring the opposition by a whopping 11.2 points per 100 possessions in that span. If the Sixers can continue to defend their home court, they’ll have their first honest-to-goodness winning streak since they won four straight between Dec. 29, 2013, and Jan. 4, 2014.


Knocking off Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and company won’t be easy, of course, but Brett Brown can always rally the troops by leaning on the words of that other Coach Brown: “It has happened before.”

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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