What a sad time.

Walking out of the Wells Fargo Center after the 76ers’ 124-106 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night was for yours truly one of the saddest moments covering sports in more than 3 1/2 decades.

It’s not just that the NBA season has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Our lives in a way have been postponed. Face it: We are each looking over our shoulders, wondering if that person we talked to will test positive for the coronavirus.

During Wednesday’s postgame interview, Sixers general manager Elton Brand and coach Brett Brown, who both know their way around a microphone, could barely speak.

Better days are ahead. It’s just hard to see them at this point.

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— Marc Narducci (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

What’s next?

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday night on TNT that the hiatus would last “at least 30 days.”

Silver wasn’t discounting the idea of resuming the regular season. Many have assumed that if the league loses at least a month, the NBA would scrap the rest of the regular season and just begin with the playoffs.

“Even if we’re out for a month, even if we’re out for six weeks, we could still restart the season. You know it might mean that then the Finals take place in July, you know, late July,” Silver said.

So Silver isn’t ready to say the regular season is lost.

He also is realistic enough to realize that there is a chance the season could be over.

“Of course it could be over,” he said.

If the NBA did return and began the playoffs immediately, the three teams that would have the biggest gripe would be Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento, all 3 1/2 games behind Memphis for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. San Antonio is four out. In the East, Washington is 5 1/2 behind Orlando for the eighth spot.

For the most part, though, the playoff teams are set.

If the NBA went right to the playoffs, the Sixers would have the No. 6 seed and face the third-seeded Boston Celtics.

The Sixers have won three of the four games against Boston, but the Celtics won the most recent one, by 116-95 on Feb. 1 in Boston.

Even if the NBA returns, it would not be surprising if the games were played without fans. For now, nobody including the commissioner truly knows how this season will play out, but everybody is hoping that this isn’t the last of 2019-20 NBA basketball.

Starting five

Sixers Joel Embiid reacting after scoring 49 points against the Atlanta Hawks at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb 24.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Sixers Joel Embiid reacting after scoring 49 points against the Atlanta Hawks at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb 24.

Stat of the day

Joel Embiid returned Wednesday after missing five games because of a sprained left shoulder, and while he looked winded at times, he also compiled impressive stats: 30 points and 14 rebounds.

According to Basketball-reference.com, it was the fifth time this season Embiid has scored at least 30 points and grabbed at least 14 rebounds in a game. He accomplished this against Detroit in just 26 minutes and 41 seconds.

Here are the five games.

March 11: 30 points, 14 rebounds, W vs. Detroit

Feb. 24: 49 points, 14 rebounds, W vs. Atlanta

Feb. 20: 39 points, 16 rebounds, W vs. Brooklyn

Dec. 20: 33 points, 17 rebounds, L vs. Dallas

Nov. 27: 33 points, 16 rebounds, W vs. Sacramento

What is notable is that all five games came at home. Wednesday was the 23rd time in Embiid’s career that he had a 30-14 game.

Jimmy Butler, right, of the Heat greeting Thomas Embiid, Joel’s father, before a game at the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 18.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Jimmy Butler, right, of the Heat greeting Thomas Embiid, Joel’s father, before a game at the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 18.

Passing the rock

Question: Philly in our entirety wanted Jimmy Butler back and that’s a fact. You sound like you have a personal issue with him when you lounged to say “Well Jimmy can’t be the best player on a championship team!” These players aren’t playing well because there is NO offensive...Who’s fault is it when every player we’ve signed or traded for drop statistics in most categories or for not mentally preparing them for away games or not getting lineups right and losing games with 20 point leads? — @dxkxtx11 on Twitter

Answer: Thanks for the impassioned question. First off, you’re referring to the podcast Thursday when David Murphy and I joined Keith Pompey.

I have no personal issue with Butler. I maintain that if he is the best player on a team, that won’t be good enough to win a championship. We will see how this works in Miami. I like Butler’s game, the way he plays defense and how hard he goes at it, but I don’t think he is a No. 1 option by any means.

As for referring to Brett Brown in your reference of players dropping statistics when they come here, and we were talking about Al Horford specifically on the podcast, does the player not deserve any blame? I get it that Brown has been roundly criticized and he has been far from perfect, but he seems to be an easy scapegoat all the time.