Throughout most of a one-point loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, it seemed as if the 76ers would ultimately pull out the victory.
But they did not. The Pacers, with only nine players in uniform, slipped ahead in the last three minutes of the game. And when their point guard, T.J. Ford, hit the game-winner with 3.8 seconds left, it signaled not just a hard-to-stomach, 95-94 loss but also one of the Sixers' last easy targets in the foreseeable future.
Because of Disney ice shows scheduled at the Wachovia Center, the Sixers will hit the road for a six-game trip that starts tomorrow against the Boston Celtics, then travels west to Denver, Utah, Los Angeles (the Clippers, not the Lakers), Dallas and San Antonio. The Sixers will not play at home again until a Jan. 6 game with Houston.
This will serve as the latest test for the Sixers. They have gone through a hectic time lately with the firing of former coach Maurice Cheeks, who was replaced four games ago by Tony DiLeo, then the loss of leading scorer Elton Brand for at least a month with a dislocated right shoulder.
Power forward Thaddeus Young, who is starting in place of Brand, said Saturday's game was one the 12-15 Sixers had to win.
"But now this game is behind us," Young reasoned. "And playing Boston, we have to go out there and match their effort and intensity."
The Celtics are 26-2 after last night's 124-105 win over the Knicks.
"It's tough," Andre Iguodala said. "Games you have to get, you have to get."
But the Sixers did not, and now they face an uphill climb on the road.
Kate Fagan blogs all day about the 76ers at http://go.philly.com/dsix.EndText