Through the two-plus seasons of this trying process, the players - and there have been many - who make up the 76ers have been unimaginably upbeat while the losses mounted. This past stretch of 10 consecutive defeats has been different, though. It's difficult to factually pinpoint, but it's just a feel around the organization that this is perhaps the lowest point during Brett Brown's time here. And that's saying something when you consider there has been two 26-game losing streaks involved.
Perhaps it's because the team has lost by an average of 17.9 points during this current losing streak. Maybe it's partly due to the fact that new players are being added to the roster after recovering from injuries and that the whole state of who is playing when is in flux. Or maybe the hirings of Jerry Colangelo and Mike D'Antoni is hinting to the players that things aren't just bad on the court but not totally healthy off of it as well.
Still, there are games to be played, and that will continue tonight as the Memphis Grizzlies (15-14) invade the Wells Fargo Center. The two teams met in late November, with the Grizz handing the Sixers their 18th straight loss to open the season. The Sixers did when their next game against the Los Angeles Lakers, but haven't won since.
Here's a few things to look for tonight as the Sixers play their last game at home this year before heading out on a six-game road trip that surrounds the holidays.
1. The play of Marc Gasol. Don't watch him just because he is an All-Star center and is leading the team at 16.2 points a game. Watch him because Brett Brown thinks that he is the perfect model for which Jahlil Okafor should model his game. Gasol is a very good passer from the foul line area, as well as having the ability to create his own shot from there. Like Okafor, he has very good footwork and often gets where he wants to go with a plethora of up-and-unders and drop-steps.
2. The matchups. Don't be surprised in Nerlens Noel comes off the bench tonight. The Grizzlies have been struggling of late and have decided to start a small lineup, with Zach Randolph coming of the bench and Matt Barnes getting the starts the past five games. If Brett Brown decides to go small to begin the game, his team will most likely struggle when the physical Randolph comes off the bench, as the Sixers have been manhandled of late by veteran bigs.
3. The playing time of Nik Stauskas. You may roll your eyes when you see this, but before the season the Sixers traded for the shooting guard with the hopes that his outside game could help open the lane up for Jahlil Okafor. Stauskas has rarely seen the floor the past two games, playing a combined 19 minutes, 12 of them coming in the fourth quarter of a lopsided loss in Cleveland on Sunday. His addition in the offseason was thought to be a big move by the front office. If he doesn't pan out, it will be another disappointment in the progress the organization is trying to make.