If you don't look any closer than the 'W' marked on the 76ers' schedule line, Friday's 98-93 win over the Toronto Raptors isn't particularly disturbing.
The Sixers needed a win. The Sixers got a win.
Who cares how it was achieved, right?
At quick glance, Friday's victory at the Wells Fargo Center looked like just what the doctor ordered: a win to snap the team's three-game losing streak. But if you peek underneath the final score - or if you watched the game - you know this win didn't soothe any worries.
It's a little like staring at the sun: The closer you look, the more damaging it becomes.
The Sixers coughed up a 15-point lead, looked colorless on offense, and were barely better than the really bad Raptors. Considering Toronto is closing up shop on a horrendous season, this was a game the Sixers should have, and easily could have, dominated.
Instead, they jogged to the finish line, allowing Toronto a last-second three-point shot that would have forced overtime.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Sixers improved to 41-39. Toronto, which committed 20 turnovers, dropped to 21-58. For the Sixers, power forward Elton Brand scored 22 points, while DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 27.
Because New York also won, the Sixers remain a half-game behind the Knicks for the Eastern Conference's sixth spot. The Sixers' playoff opponent has yet to be determined, but it will be either the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat.
After Friday's game, Sixers coach Doug Collins was not feigning concern; he was genuinely concerned.
"We're just a little bit off kilter right now," Collins said. "We're not as connected as we've been. Our rotation is a little bit screwed up right now, and we've just not been ourselves on the offensive end."
Collins said the team would not practice Saturday, its final off-day before playing Monday against the Orlando Magic and Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons.
"It's a very welcomed day off for everybody," Collins said. "Everybody needs to get away from each other. They don't need to see me. They need to get away. . . . We've been fighting and scratching and clawing here all season long, and I just so desperately want us to finish in a positive way."
Collins spoke with his team for an extended time after Friday's win.
"Just keep coming prepared," said Sixers guard Evan Turner, relaying the message. "We're trying to build up steam for the playoffs."
They better keep chugging.
The Raptors were without starters Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon, and regular contributor Leandro Barbosa. The Sixers were without reserve guard Lou Williams, out indefinitely with a right hamstring strain.
"We won, which is good," Collins said. "It's great that we won, but as a coach you worry. You worry. I'd like to see us be a little crisper right now, that's all. I guess that's just my nature."
It's not just Collins' nature, it's reality: The Sixers are losing their edge, and only one week remains to recapture it.