It's not as bad as the 1964 collapse of the Philadelphia Phillies, but the 76ers' current slide is beginning to bring back memories.
Once in the driver's seat of the Atlantic Division for quite some time, Philadelphia has stumbled tremendously to the tune of three straight and seven of nine losses this month. The Sixers are barely clinging to the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference at 1 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee, and will begin a five-game road trip tonight at Cleveland to close out the regular season.
The 76ers' woes continued with last night's 102-97 loss at home to the Indiana Pacers, as Andre Iguodala finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead the way in front of a disappointed Wells Fargo Center crowd. Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, in a reserve role for the Sixers, who shot 44.7 percent and made only 5 of 14 three-pointers. Fifteen turnovers also led to 16 Indiana points.
"Mentally, it's tough," said Sixers forward Elton Brand. "But me, personally, I'm very optimistic. Hopefully we'll take all of these late-game lessons and bring that to the first round."
The road ahead won't be an easy one for Philly with Indiana, New Jersey, Milwaukee and Detroit still on the slate. The 76ers are 12-16 away from home this season and own a dreadful 11-21 record since a 20-9 start.
Cleveland will begin a tough stretch over the next four games against the Sixers, Knicks, Spurs and Grizzlies, and is probably pleased to see the end of the condensed 2011-12 season is near.
The Cavaliers are 20-40 on the season and have lost two straight, four of five and 14 of their last 17 games, including Tuesday's 116-77 blowout at the hands of the Detroit Pistons. Manny Harris scored 18 points to pace the Cavs and Tristan Thompson ended with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
"I just look at it like one team came out to play and the other team didn't," Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison said. "All phases of the game we just didn't come out and bring it."
Jamison certainly didn't have his A-game with three points, four rebounds and four turnovers. The Cavaliers shot 34.6 percent and committed 19 turnovers that resulted in 29 points. Rookie of the Year candidate Kyrie Irving missed his ninth straight game with an injured shoulder and Cavs forward Alonzo Gee did not play due to a sprained ankle. Irving could possibly return tonight, according to head coach Byron Scott via The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Gee is listed as questionable.
"It depends on [trainer] Max [Benton] and the medical staff and if they clear me to play along with coach Scott," Irving told the paper. "Right now, it's in my hands, but not really."
Cleveland will also host New York on this quick homestand and is 10-20 at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs have dropped the first two meetings with Philadelphia this season and haven't been swept in a series with the Sixers since losing all three matchups in 2004-05. Philadelphia has won the last four games between the teams and two in a row in the Forest City.