Are the Golden State Warriors better than the Philadelphia 76ers are worse?
The Golden State Warriors
defeated destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers last night 111-77 to set the NBA record for consecutive wins to start a season. Their 16 2015-2016 victories follow an NBA title in June. Perhaps more impressively they come after spinal-fluid issues forced coach Steve Kerr to cede the sideline duties to 35-year-old Luke Walton.
They lost their coach. But they didn’t lose a game.
The Warriors play so dominantly that coming into the contest Lakers coach Byron Scott laughed at the suggestion of his squad beating the defending champions, Magic Johnson broke the news to the Laker faithful on Twitter that they didn’t stand a chance, and Kobe Bryant could merely muster, “I’ve seen stranger things happen.”
Last night’s 34-point shellacking, which saw Bryant held to four points on 1-of-14 shooting from the field, vindicates the confidence Scott, Magic, and the Black Mamba put in their doubts. Apart from Golden State playing the Harlem Globetrotters to the rest of the league’s Washington Generals, the Lakers dress a horrible collection of players. But one team appears more pitiful.
The 0-15 Philadelphia 76ers place last in points. They remain the only team in the league to post a double-digit negative point differential (13.5). Their 33 percent shooting from the field ranks last in the league. They lead the NBA in turnovers. Coach Brett Brown recently lamented, “This team is built to turn the ball over.”
Like Golden State’s dominance, Philadelphia’s futility didn’t sneak up on basketball fans. It’s been building, or perhaps breaking, for some time.
So poorly did the 76ers play last season that Papa John’s changed its “76ers Win, You Win” promotion from a victory giving Philadelphia-area customers 50 percent off food orders to giving them the deal after the team scored 90 points. The previous season the team blared its failure when it fell short of breaking the league’s consecutive loss record, ending the streak a game short at 26. Even in the draft, where losers traditionally win, the 76ers couldn’t get its two first rounders on the court last season. Neither Joel Embiid nor Dario Saric has played a second in the NBA, with the former pick rehabbing injuries and the latter competing in Europe.
Five teams in NBA history finished a season with wins in the single digits. One of those teams changed its name, another moved, and a third went out of business soon after the prolonged debacle. The 76ers merely altered their logos and uniforms before this season. That Jedi Mind Trick doesn’t cut it for fans who watched Dr. J and and Allen Iverson and Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain and Charles Barkley.
The 76ers embark on a four-game road trip tonight, making the chances of a win coming in the near future a losing proposition. The next time the Warriors play against a team boasting a current record above .500 comes in December. They travel to 8-6 Charlotte on December 2.
The Warriors made history by winning 16 straight to start a season. The 76ers make history tonight with a loss in Boston. With ten losses to finish 2014-2015 and 15 defeats to get off on the wrong foot this season, the 76ers stand, slump-shoulders and staring at their shoes, a loss away from entering the record books. Should they lose once more, they achieve what they could not do two years ago and what no NBA team has ever done: lose 27 straight.
For the NBA’s two teams cheered, at one time or another, by Philadelphia fans, it’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. To mix Dickensian metaphors, the tale of two cities sees Oakland enjoying the riches of Tigg Montague and Philadelphia enduring the poverty of Montague Tigg.
And the rich get richer and the poor get poorer still: the 76ers and Golden State meet on January 30 in Philadelphia and March 27 in Oakland.