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Sixers Lose to Pistons, Ensure Another Year of Textbook Mediocrity

Apr 15, 2011, 8:44 PM EDT

Goddamn it. A meaningless regular season loss after the Sixers had
already sewn up the seven seeed shouldn’t hurt like this, but for the
last month or so of the season, all I wanted for this team was to get to
42 wins. A plus-.500 record. A winning record. But it just
wasn’t meant to me, as the team lost five of its last six games to limp
into the playoffs at 41-41. There are stipulations, of course—namely
Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, two of the team’s key rotation players,
both missing time—but it’s still far from satisfying, and not a
terribly encouraging way to be entering the post-season.

It wasn’t
all bad last night, though. The Sixers’ presumptive backcourt of the
future entering the season, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, both got some
seriously nice burn, averaging a combined 39 points, 14 assists and nine
rebounds on 14-24 shooting. But the team just doesn’t have the depth to
play shorthanded, and when you’ve got Jason Kapono out there playing
meaningful fourth-quarter minutes (and taking the final shot of the
season and possibly his Sixers tenure with a corner three to tie the
game—which of course he missed, considering he didn’t hit a single
clutch shot over the course of his two seasons earning 12-plus million
as a Liberty Baller), the results probably aren’t going to be pretty.
The Pistons hit the one or two big shots they needed to, and the Sixers
failed to answer, because they’re a terrible-enough fourth-quarter team
even with their two go-to fourth-quarter guys available. Final score:
Detroit 104, Philly 100.

We’ll have more about the team, the season that was and the
upcoming playoff picture (grim though it may be) over the next few days,
but right now I just want to stew in anger over the fact that no matter
how great and rewarding this team’s turnaround over the last four
months has been, it still couldn’t end in even the most superficial of
feel-good victories. I’ve tried convincing myself that this team is
different than the two other ‘Dre-led Sixers teams that made the
playoffs since Iverson left, that they were more talented and of tougher
moral character, but the similarities are really getting staggering.
And it’s hard not to think that this team isn’t going to be lucky just
to once again make it to Game Six of the first round before bowing out
of the post-season.