The 76ers beat a bad team with ease Wednesday night.
That's exactly how things should be. Coming off a 52-win season, with lofty postseason goals and three of the best players in basketball on the team, there's no reason the Sixers, who sit third in the Eastern Conference, should waver against the NBA's struggling teams.
The Sixers knocked the wind out of the Knicks and left them angry and confused. For Knicks fans, it was surely hard to watch, but for Sixers fans, it was an important moment. Now 23 games into the season, Wednesday night marked the first time this season that the Sixers have handled business early and kept their foot on the gas pedal.
With 2 minutes, 55 seconds left to play in the third quarter, the Sixers called a timeout, and the Knicks' Enes Kanter threw his hands up as he walked to the bench. The Sixers were leading 86-58 and New York didn't have any answers.
Dejected, Kanter watched from the sidelines moments later as Joel Embiid got an easy bucket, adding to the lead. Kanter buried his face in the towel he was holding and shook his head. The embarrassment of the loss was written all over his face.
"We were losing by 30," he pointedly said after the game. "You just try not to fall apart."
Despite the lead, the Sixers kept punching.
"They took us out of everything that we tried to do," Knicks coach David Fizdale said.
As the Sixers are attempting to settle their defensive rotations and integrate the new players it's even more important to have nights where the team asserts its dominance and position early on. Even more so, as the season wears on, having the opportunity to preserve starters will become more valuable.
"I thought the guys that came in held the floor," Brett Brown said.
That's not something that Brown has been able to say as much as he would have liked to this season, but come Friday, the Sixers (15-8) have another opportunity against the Washington Wizards (8-13).
Though not as bad as the Knicks, the Wizards are a team that the Sixers should be able to beat, and with a handful of tougher opponents on the horizon it's becoming increasingly important for the Sixers to get wins against sub-par teams.
After Friday, the Sixers will only play one more team (Brooklyn) that has a losing record before Dec. 15. Between now and then they'll face the Raptors, Grizzlies, Pistons twice, and Pacers — all playoff-bound teams. So even though the Sixers faced a tough early season schedule of multiple back-to-backs and intense travel, things are not going to let up.
The NBA season is often called a grind for a reason, after one hurdle another pops up. Bad teams should not be able to come into the Wells Fargo Center and stand a chance, as the Cavaliers did last week. The Sixers are a team that should be beyond that standard. Wednesday's game against the Knicks was a step in the right direction. Friday should be no different.