"Do the Sixers have, like, a bye week coming up? When is their bye week this year?"
Friend of the blog Jason Lipshutz put it best yesterday before the Philadelphia 76ers faced off against the Sacramento Kings at home yesterday. The game should've been among the most eminently winnable on the Sixers' schedule, yet given the Sixers' recent run -- particularly without Joel Embiid, who it was revealed hours before yesterday's tip would be sitting for the second straight game -- we could hardly afford to feel even slightly confident.
Following the game, it was hard to tell what was more depressing: That the Sixers lost 101-95 to Sacramento after leading by as much as 16 in the second half -- the second consecutive loss to their pickswap partners -- or that it was hardly surprising that they had done so.
The loss was the Sixers' seventh in eight tries -- four of the seven coming against well-sub-.500 teams -- dropping them to 14-16 for the season. Clearly, the gods are punishing the Sixers and me specifically for having the temerity to write this article two and a half weeks ago. Sorry folks, I'll never write anything positive about this basketball team again.
Anyway, as much of a bummer as this December has been for our Ballers, it's not quite sky-falling bad yet. Four of those seven losses have come without Embiid in the lineup, and last night against the Kings also saw Robert Covington shoot 2-13 from three. No Embiid + Cov 2-13 is about as surefire a formula for a Sixers loss as you can come up with, regardless of opponent or location. But it also won't last: Embiid should be back on Friday, and it might be a long time before Covington has a night that bad again.
It is definitely a little bit sobering to see just how bad this team is without JoJo, though. You'd hope that four years of being bad (and the resulting high draft picks) would've fortified the roster enough that we could survive without him, at least against the bad teams. But with Simmons going through some kind of weird self-imposed offensive funk -- he only shot six times last night, despite hitting five of those (including two early-game jumpers) -- Fultz still hurt, and Jahlil and Nerlens both dealt for minimal return, while our free agent vets prove consistently unreliable... well, it all adds up to us needing The Process a lot more than we should at the moment.
Oh well. The only really important thing at the moment is Christmas in New York -- if Joel is healthy and playing for that one, nothing else about the 2017 Sixers really matters to me. Plenty to worry about with this team still, but let's save that for 2018. All I want for Sixers Christmas is JoJo dunking on (and fouling out) Enes Kanter on national TV.