Dating back to last season, Philadelphia has dropped 28 games in a row, the longest losing streak ever in American professional sports. Another defeat Tuesday night would mark the 19th consecutive to open the year, surpassing the worst start in NBA history set by the 2010-11 Nets.
The 76ers have rarely even put up a legitimate fight in their contests, as only half of their defeats have come by fewer than 10 points.
This season, opponents are outscoring them by an average of 12 points per game and surprisingly, the defense hasn’t been the problem. Coach Brett Brown has made the most of a flawed roster, as Philadelphia is the leading shot blocking team in the league and ranks seventh in steals.
The team ranks 21st in defensive rating, an impressive number considering the talent on the team. Five of the 12 players to make an appearance for the team weren’t ever drafted into the NBA, while another four were selected in the second round.
Philadelphia’s average age on the roster is 22.3, with the eldest member of the team being small forward Robert Covington, a 25-year-old with just three years of NBA experience.
The 76ers haven’t claimed a victory in 252 days, as it last won 99-85 in Denver on March 25th by miraculously limiting the Nuggets to nine fourth quarter points that evening.
Ever since, Philadelphia has been defeated 16 times on the road and another 12 at the Wells Fargo Center.
A six game road trip epitomized the multitude of ways the team has suffered its losses during its unfortunate run.
- Charlotte connected 12 times from 3-point range during a blowout victory
- Miami recorded 18 rejections against the 76ers to win by five points
- Minnesota connected on 26-of-28 attempts at the free throw line
- Boston scored 27 fourth quarter points to overcome a five point deficit entering the period
- James Harden torched the team for a season-high 50 points along with nine rebounds and eight assists
- Memphis forced 25 turnovers to claim a 92-84 victory Sunday
The turnovers issue is the one that irks Brown the most, as earlier in the month he claimed his team was built for turnovers, as the team ranks last in the NBA in the category, coughing up the ball an average of 19 times a night. The lofty amount of turnovers, coupled with just 92 points a game, the lowest in the league, has propelled the losing streak.
Turning the ball is an issue, as once an opponent gets into transition, scoring the ball has become essentially automatic. The 76ers are surrendering a field goal percentage of 46.7 percent inside the 3-point arc.
The loss to Memphis snapped a three-way tie for the longest losing streak in NBA history, as the 2010-11 Cavaliers and the 2013-14 76ers ahd each lost 26 consecutive games.
Sunday’s loss dropped Brown to 37–145 (.204) his three seasons in Philadelphia. Brown has the second-worst winning percentage of any coach with at least 100 games on his resume. Only Brian Winters, a former Memphis and Golden State coach, has a worse mark (.196).
To avoid supplanting Brooklyn as the team with the worst start in league history, the 76ers are facing the Lakers, owners of a 2-14 record — the worst in the Western Conference — as Kobe Bryant makes his final appearance in his hometown as the first time in his farewell tour.
Bryant confirmed Sunday night he will retire at the end of the season.
A year ago, Philadelphia lost both its meetings with the Lakers, falling by 14 points in Los Angeles and losing by two in overtime during the third game of its 28 straight losses.
The 76ers have genuinely been close to snapping its epic streak, holding a lead for an average of 27:30, along with a fourth quarter advantage in every game during their last five contests.
Philadelphia has been losing on purpose for the past three years in hopes of landing a franchise-caliber player in the draft, with 108 more defeats than victories has driven players, agents and fans away from the team.
Plus, the 76ers aren’t guaranteed the top overall selection in the draft, and hasn’t won the draft lottery since 1996.
Philadelphia is just 48 minutes away from infamy and it’s becoming more clear all of the losing simply isn’t worth it.