“Making history” is one of those sports things meant to rally the troops, keep fans interested and fend off reality for just a wee bit longer.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, with his 76ers staring at an 0-3 deficit in their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Boston Celtics, latched onto the “history” theme when it came to his team’s state in this series.
Teams down 3-0 are 0-129 in NBA playoffs history. Brown’s exploration of “broken spirits,” which he claims not to see in his team, and plugging away was mildly interesting. But talent gaps, injury issues, unfortunate matchups, the ability to handle playoff pressure, and coaching adjustments and maneuvers have a ton to do with the other guys’ unblemished success rate.
While the Sixers host Celtics tonight, what Brown seems to have forgotten is another “history” truism — the one that reminds us it’s written by the winners.
From Matt Haughton’s report for NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com, it sounds as if Joel Embiid’s approach of surviving just one game — and not getting swept with the clincher on their home court — is the Sixers’ best play, rather than pondering the big-picture stuff:
The Sixers don’t have to look far to figure out how they got into this position. Poor defense, a failure to make shots and late-game mistakes have put them in a deep hole.
All of those things will have to be addressed if the Sixers want to be the first franchise in the league’s 71-year history to rally back from a 3-0 deficit.
“The number to me, zero, happens more out of spirit than talent,” Brown said. “Like there’s a breaking point we all have and I believe that if we can maintain our spirit, why couldn’t we be the one? And I mean that. That’s my goal with us. Fight, keep our mind believing some of what I said, I hope all of it, and let their bodies recover and give us a chance. That’s all I know. I can’t see any other way to approach this that makes sense to me and so that’s what we’re going to do.”
“Next game, we’ve got to do better,” Joel Embiid said. “That’s a big one, win-or-go-home. Never been in this situation, so I’m excited. It’s going be a good game, and I feel like it’s going to be a different energy. When you know that this is your last chance, you always end up playing better.”