Tonight, the unthinkable almost happened. A team with just seven wins all season came up against the Golden State Warriors..the defending Champions who happen to have lost less games than the Sixers have won. Everybody had it as a write off, everybody except Sixers fans. The 76ers came close, eventually losing the game with just a blink of an eye left on the clock..but the fans are perhaps more excited about this performance than any win this season..but the media will turn the blind eye and talk about how the Warriors almost threw the win away or how they didn’t play their typical game.
But the story that really should be discussed on NBA TV or published on ESPN or even talked about on the radio is how a group of individuals came together as a team to face their toughest challenge yet. The Sixers who ranked last in the league in turnovers and 25th in points conceded a game went toe to toe with the league’s most dominant Offense..and almost wrestled their way out of the Tigers Jaw.
At half time, the Sixers were down 73-54. Against Golden State, you’d really expect nothing less..and you’d also naturally expect that trend to continue. But as the second half progressed, the Sixers played with a fire in their belly. All of a sudden, the pieces of the puzzle began to click and Golden State didn’t know what to do. They began to panic..nobody expected the biggest underdog imaginable to start punching back. The shots began to fall, the lead began to crumble and the Wells Fargo Center was the loudest it had been all season long as a sold out crowd began to believe.
Then, of course…this happened.
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 31, 2016
You can talk about stats all day long. You can talk about how Ish Smith was 2-12 at one stage at shooting and how in the opening quarter the Sixers allowed 15 points in less than 3 minutes whilst putting up nothing at the other end. You can talk about the Warriors beginning to get complacent and pretend like that’s the only thing that happened..but it wasn’t.
Ish Smith led the team with 18 points and the returning Jahlil Okafor ended his game with 13. The Sixers played hard, gritty, aggressive basketball and weren’t afraid to take risks. Brown was extremely smart with his timeouts and the end result was a team who were finally beginning to believe in themselves.
You could see it..every shot that fell, every time the Sixers drew closer..the players on the Sidelines were elated..they were jumping, grabbing each other, cheering on their teammates as hard as they could. The raw emotion was something that has been buried away inside this group of exceedingly talented individuals for far too long.
The Sixers didn’t get the win and moral victories in the bigger scheme of things might not mean much, but this one does. Because the team can move forward..confident that they can go toe-to-toe with anyone in this league..that they can defy the odds and make the Wells Fargo an intimidating place to play once again. Everybody knows that the Sixers are rebuilding and that their pieces are constantly growing..but nobody talks about that resilience.
To be winning at Duke or to be winning at Kentucky and then come into this league..this competitive free-for-all and lose such a high percentage is going to take a toll as it would on any man. But today these players got back up and they pushed back. It wasn’t a win..but they stuck it to the naysayers, the analysts, the fans who jumped ship and anyone else who wrote this team off.
The Golden State Warriors may have crumbled…that’s a story. But the story that should be highlighted in the media is that there is another revolution going on in Philadelphia. After a few minor tremors, we’ve finally seen the first earthquake. There are big, big things coming.