It wasn't too long ago that the Sixers were the league darlings and the Celtics had one foot out the door. Now those roles have somewhat reversed.
"Everybody's looking at Chicago and Miami as the two teams, but I would not blink on Boston," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "This team has taken it to another level." So, too, has his team. The Sixers were an inspiring 20-9 not so long ago, and two times in March they were able to clobber the visiting Celtics. But Sunday's loss was Philadelphia's fourth straight. Since the All-Star break, the Sixers have gone 9-18 while succumbing to a lopsided schedule that inflated their confidence while they were winning consistently at home early in the season. Now their goal is framed in the negative -- all they can hope for at this late stage is to stave off the No. 9 Bucks, who trail them by a game with 10 remaining.
In the sad-but-understandable arena, I saw on twitter last night that some Sixers fans are actually rooting for the team to start tanking to avoid the no-mans-land of the 8th seed (and no lottery ping pong balls). They are a young enough team that would benefit from some playoff experience but I can understand the urge to want a higher draft pick if the season is likely going to end with an early playoff exit.
The Celtics, on the other hand, are not a team that anyone wants to face in the playoffs and might even have the legs to make one last run. But you knew that already.