Heading into the 2103-2014 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers knew what lay ahead of them. Prior to the start of the year, the majority of NBA experts picked the Sixers to finish last in the entire league.
On draft night, they traded away All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for center Nerlens Noel. Other than giving up their most talented player at the draft, their most notable highlight on this evening was their selection of point guard Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th overall pick.
The team was well aware of the fact that they were going to struggle when they assembled a team full of rookies and second-year players. At the time, the only players who had veteran experience were Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes.
Right out of the gate, the Sixers were in immediate trouble as they were hosting the defending champion Miami Heat in their first game. What was supposed to be a laugher, turned into perhaps the most memorable moment of the season.
The Sixers, led by Carter-Williams, got off to a great start as they opened the game on a 15-0 run. They then found themselves trailing late in the game, but were able to show great resilience by coming from behind and eventually capturing a 114-110 win over the Heat.
Coming off of an impressive win against Miami, the Sixers then found themselves in a back-to-back situation at the Washington Wizards and then home to the Chicago Bulls. Trying to prove their first game was not a fluke; the Sixers were up to the challenge.
In Washington, the Sixers trailed by 10 at halftime, but outscored the Wizards by 17 in the second half leading them to a 109-102 victory. The next night, they improved to a 3-0 after another remarkable win against Derrick Rose and the Bulls.
Following these three games, reality began to strike the Sixers as they lost 12 out of their next 15. However, during this stretch, they continued to show fight as they snuck out with two big overtime wins against the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.
Once mid-November and early December came around, the Sixers really began to struggle. It was that time of year again where the Sixers would hit the west coast for their annual holiday road trip; and they had lost 9 out of their last 10 games.
Year after year, the Sixers head to the west coast around this time and usually always return with a road trip record of under .500. However, this season was different as the Sixers finished the trip with a 4-1 record with wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, and Portland Trail Blazers.
Following this road trip, the Sixers then started to prove why they were picked to finish last in the standings. At this point during the season, wins were very difficult to come by.
On January 29th, the Sixers defeated the Boston Celtics by a score of 95-94 on Evan Turner’s game winning shot. This win was significant because this was the last one they would get for two months.
The Sixers would go on to set a franchise record by losing 26 consecutive games, which tied the Cleveland Cavaliers for the longest losing streak in NBA history. Luckily, they did not surpass this total as they finally were able to get a victory over the Detroit Pistons on March 29th.
During this time period, the trade deadline came and went as the Sixers were huge sellers by sending away Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. It was at this point that the Sixers had completely thrown in the towel and were essentially getting ready for next season.
The Sixers were able to close the year on a two-game win streak as they defeated the Boston Celtics on Monday, and the Heat again last night. They ended the season with a record of 19-63, finishing second to last behind the Bucks who were 15-67.
Overall, the Sixers season was very disappointing, but was much expected. It is very difficult for a team to compete in the league when they are made up of primarily first and second-year players.
However, there were some positives that came out of the season such as seeing the potential in Carter-Williams and some other young players who can have an impact on this team. They were also able to add several draft picks which will help them reconstruct their entire roster for next season.
Despite the lackluster season, the future does look bright in Philadelphia. Next year may be a difficult one as well, but the team will continue to grow and hopefully begin to solidify themselves as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.
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