I had a season-long fear of the 76ers.
Picked them to win the East in the preseason. Hated how they match up with the Celtics, the proof was in the pudding, and then they took three of four meetings in the regular season.
But heading into their first-round matchup, I had Boston eliminating Philly in four or five. Why? Three reasons.
- Philly didn't have Ben Simmons
- Those three Sixers wins over the Celtics came before Jayson Tatum turned into the monster he is now
- Philadelphia's quit factor
I think we've seen all three things through two games, leaving me to conclude the Sixers are dead as disco.
The Simmons absence and the quit factor are both related to Philadelphia's season-long issues that left them with the No. 6 seed.
They don't know what to do with their lineup, and it's probably not too wild to guess that they don't like their coach. Everything they throw out there other than Joel Embiid is a disappointment. Obviously Al Horford hasn't done much. Tobias Harris, one of Philly's max players, stunk in Game 2, and the supporting cast isn't good enough to pick those guys up.
Know when I thought this series was over? It wasn't when the Celtics mounted a zillion point lead in the third quarter of Game 2. It was earlier — specifically, the end of the first — when Philly had played its best quarter of the series with a 60.9 field goal percentage... and only led by six.
Boy, you could see that quit factor coming from a mile away. They weren't going to play nearly that well the rest of the way, Boston was going to surpass them (which they did less than three minutes into the second quarter) and never look back. It was so deliciously obvious.
And really, Game 2 seemed like Philadelphia's chance. Someone could have taken that team and acknowledged it had been a weird year, but that with Gordon Hayward out for the Celtics, things were closer to even than they were before. Any such rah-rah moment obviously didn't happen.
There was an amusing, albeit earnest exchange between Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine during the second half, as the Celtics began to pull away.
There's nothing funny about someone losing their job, but that moment did illustrate that you can't look at the Sixers this season without thinking that something needs to change.
The Celtics had quite a bit of that last season. Someone had to go, whether you thought there were too many cooks and just wanted to get rid of Terry Rozier, or were hoping Kyrie Irving would leave. Something had to change if you wanted everything to work.
That's where the Sixers are, and down one of their best players with insufficient depth and down two games in the series, do the Sixers look like a group that are going to dig deep and make this a series?
I can't see it.