PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The Philadelphia 76ers are on the cusp of winning the NBA’s version of The Biggest Loser.
Think of all the can’t-watch-this bad basketball in the league’s history. The seven-win Charlotte Bobcats in 2011-12 could only muster a 23-game skid. The 1972-73 Sixers that went 9-73; just 20 straight losses. Those old Clippers and Grizzlies teams that couldn’t even crack double-digit win totals didn’t come close to 26.
None of them lost as many consecutive games as the Sixers (15-57). They have lost 26 straight, a winless stretch that has been matched in NBA history only by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.
Houston’s 120-98 win over the Sixers on Thursday night matched the mark, prompting the back page of Friday’s Philadelphia Daily News to run with the headline, ”The Big SKID MARK.”
The 76ers can set the record for NBA ineptitude at home against Detroit on Saturday night.
”I’m not even thinking about it,” veteran forward Thaddeus Young said.
Added guard James Anderson, ”We try not to pay attention to it. But it’s tough. There are a lot of people talking about it. It’s kind of hard to ignore it.”
Try impossible. Not even general manager Sam Hinkie, who orchestrated the takedown that left the roster for scraps, could have predicted this kind of carnage. The Sixers’ streak started Jan. 31 with a 125-99 loss to Atlanta. It stretched into a winless February. An 0-for-March seems possible.
Hope just might be on the way: The Sixers play a Pistons team that is 26-46 and has lost 17 of 21 after Friday night’s 110-78 defeat to visiting Miami.
Philadelphia, though, has dropped all three meetings with Detroit this season to fall to 1-6 in the last seven matchups.
The Sixers are closing in on setting the longest losing streak in sports history. According to STATS LLC, the longest streaks in the four major sports are held by: The Cavaliers lost 26 straight from Dec. 20, 2010-Feb. 9, 2011; the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 26 straight from Sept. 12, 1976-Dec. 4 1977; baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies lost 23 straight from July 29-Aug. 20, 1961; and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins lost 18 from Jan. 13-Feb. 22, 2004.
As bad as the season has been in Philly, the Sixers still aren’t the worst team in the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks are 14-58 and riding an impressive one-game winning streak.
The Sixers can’t even count on a home-court edge to help them against Detroit. They have lost 18 straight games at the Wells Fargo Center since beating Charlotte on Jan. 15. So if not the Pistons, then which team will be the unlucky one that loses to Philly?
The Sixers play four straight games against teams with losing records – Saturday against the Pistons, Monday at Atlanta, Wednesday against Charlotte and April 4 at Boston. Their last win came against the Celtics on the road Jan. 29.
Philadelphia had a few close calls against good and bad teams of late (hanging tough against Chicago, losing by one point to New York) so an upset against other lottery-positioned teams could happen. But three straight road blowouts put a spotlight on the bleak reality the Sixers could end the season on a 36-game losing streak.