The 76ers were on a roll.
They had solid ball movement and were playing perhaps their best basketball since the 2014-15 season. They even won consecutive road games for the first time since winning four straight from Dec. 29, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014.
But all the positives stopped once the Sixers returned home Wednesday and starting pairing Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor in the starting lineup as twin towers. The team says it is committed to winning this season. But it doesn't take even a 6-year-old long to realize their chances greatly decrease with that lineup.
The team moved Embiid, its franchise center, to power forward. Away from the basket, he hasn't been as effective as the Sixers want and need him to be. Also, Okafor has been a defensive liability under the rim. And that stellar team ball the Sixers had played in the five games before the switch has disappeared.
"We were starting to get going," coach Brett Brown said. "We led the NBA in passes. We were fourth in assists. Our defense was getting going, too. It was 15th, And all of a sudden, the health of our players made it available for us to, if we wanted to, we could put them both together on the floor."
Brown added that the Sixers talked about it. And they weren't alone. Several fans wanted to see the pairing.
Before Wednesday's game, Embiid and Okafor had been on the floor together only during short stretches in two games against the Orlando Magic. They did not start together in those matchups.
"This is a work in progress," Embiid said. "I'm not sure why we changed it. But I'm going to do whatever they want."
But Embiid admiited that it's been tough. He had more space to operate when paired with Ersan Ilyasova when he paired in the starting starting.
Friday night "I think I had three layups or whatever," Embiid said. "Every time I'd drive in all of the bigs were on my steps."
The rookie added that it's on him to figure out when to drive the lane while paired with another center.
Brown realizes the Embiid-Okafor pairing in the starting lineup has been detrimental to his team's overall performance.
"We decided to do this as an organization to see if it has a chance for working," Brown said. "How long we [keep] doing it? I don't know. But we are going to go on trying it, certainly [Sunday against the Nets].
"I think we can all step back and make a better assessment after that."