The second game of the season is hardly time to panic, so the 76ers shouldn’t. They’ve got a really good team, the Ben Simmons drama will eventually work itself out with either a trade or a return to the lineup and eventual “but what about the playoffs?” storyline (that would grate on everyone until it finally turns out that the playoffs are no different than ever), and Philadelphia did win its first game of the season on Wednesday, beating the Pelicans by 20.
Also, the Nets are still title contenders. They might not have Kyrie Irving, but Brooklyn does still bring Kevin Durant and James Harden to the gym every night, as well as Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Joe Harris.
It’s OK for the Sixers to lose a game. There’s no shame in losing to the Nets. It’s October.
And yet... what happened on Friday night was still hilarious.
In their home opener, their first game in front of the Philadelphia fans since blowing a fourth quarter lead in Game 7 against the Hawks, with Simmons on the bench for the final minute — following up their blown 15-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of that second-round series — the Sixers coughed up a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter to Brooklyn, giving up 16 of the game’s last 17 points.
Again, the Nets are an outstanding team, and Durant had a triple-double with 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 12 assists. It’s still funny because you know it’s only going to make the already simmering cauldron of Philadelphia emotions bubble more. The Sixers didn’t get outright booed off the court, but you could feel through the murmur after the game-sealing free throw and subsequent turnover just how bad the vibes are there right now.
If you want to find something really concerning out of this for Philadelphia, it’s that the Sixers didn’t get booed for collapsing this way, because it’s coming to be expected. That’s why the answer for the Sixers, even though they won’t get the value they want, is to trade Simmons as soon as possible. They’re at a point where the expectation is bad, and if they don’t do anything to change, it’s going to keep coming to fruition.