For as bad as the 130-110 loss to the lowly Milwaukee Bucks was on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center -- and it was really, really bad -- Sixers head coach Brett Brown can keep his eyes on the prize.
And if a 20-point loss to the team with the worst record in the NBA can’t deter Brown’s resolve, there isn’t much to keep the Sixers coming back for more.
How bad was it? With the Bucks picking up win No. 11, the Sixers are four games away from the coveted worst record in the NBA (see Instant Replay). Yes, the season is all about development and building for the future. We get that. But when does the humiliation become too much to bear?
Brown says it helps to have a bit of tunnel vision.
“You just stay true to get to where you know you want to go. You can’t blink,” Brown said. “We’ve had a lot of nights like this, haven’t we? You stay the course. You don’t blink.”
The Sixers suffered their 11th straight loss on Monday and the 10th straight at home. Given that the Sixers lost to the Bucks after gutting the roster at the trade deadline, wins are going to be a battle in the final 25 games. The Sixers have not won a game in February and March isn’t shaping up to be much better.
The NBA record for consecutive losses is 26 set by the 2010-11 Cavaliers. The franchise record is 20 set by 1972-73 club that is regarded as the worst in the history of the league. The team that Brown is going to battle with could give that one a run for the money.
And they know it.
“It’s a learning process,” said Thad Young, who led the Sixers with 28 points and a career-high seven assists. “We have to get guys on the learning curve.”
Here’s how bad it got on Monday …
The Sixers trailed by 31 in the first half and by 35 after three quarters. The Bucks’ bench outscored the Sixers, 72-24. The Bucks’ bench also grabbed as many rebounds (28) as the Sixers did all night. In fact, Milwaukee snagged 20 offensive rebounds to the Sixers’ 28 total rebounds.
The Bucks also scored 40 points in the paint during the first half and were led by reserve O.J. Mayo’s 25 points on 7 for 9 from three-point range.
Worse yet, the Bucks scored 73 points in the first half. For a team that averages a next-to-last 92.6 per game, it’s a little obvious the Sixers had some difficulty on defense. Playing defense, coaches say, is all about effort and that’s an indictment of Brown’s team right there.
“Extraordinarily poor,” Brown said when asked about his team’s effort against Milwaukee.
Brown was being kind. Noting that his team nearly shot 50 percent from the field, forced 23 turnovers and had 16 steals, the 130 points allowed is mind-numbing. Perhaps the Sixers -- Young excluded -- should have waved red capes like a matador with the way they played defense.
Though the big losses don’t count for more than any other type of loss, there is something to worry about with such a young team. The fear is that rookies like Michael Carter-Williams will become so far engulfed in losing that it becomes normal. Brown acknowledges this, and that’s where he “can’t blink.”
“Perhaps,” Brown said. “When you’re losing at the margin we’re losing at to teams like Milwaukee, bad things creep in all over the place. [Monday’s] game was very different to me than the Dallas game [last Friday]. The Dallas game you could sleep because the energy was good.”
Yes, Brown will have a fitful night of sleep after this one.
Next up, the Sixers host the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. The Magic are ahead of the Sixers by 1½ games in the race for the most ping-pong balls.