The 76ers limped to the finish line with yet another loss. Make that 10 straight losses to close the 2014-15 season following a 105-101 setback to the Miami Heat Wednesday night.
In a bizarre season which the Sixers featured an eye-popping 25 players and 41 different starting lineups, they also won just 18 games.
That’s consecutive seasons of 19 and 18 wins, respectively.
“For me, this was a hard year,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “To lose two years in a row like we did, I would be not telling the truth if I said that wasn't hard. I feel that the stuff that has gone on all around, I'm just thrilled with. I try to remind myself all the time like 'don't get tricked.' Really, the win-loss record is probably not in the top 10 in the list of what's most important, if we're really trying to build a program. We talked a lot about the defense, sports science, the infrastructure. So I rate this year, for me, just one that I'm very proud of personally. The foundation of trying to grow this culture and build a program is going in a direction I thought it would.”
When do wins and losses go into the top 10?
“Next year. Without a doubt,” Brown said. “For me, it does. It's very hard (to do). When I give you that answer, we need to see that we're moving forward. How do you quantify that? With a number of wins? I'm not prepared to give that answer. We're all going to come back this time next year and say we had a (heck) of a year or we've got a ways to go. Everybody's going to feel the same thing. I hope I stand here next year and say, 'We did it again. We moved the program forward.' I feel confident and comfortable saying that now. This is a (heck) of a lot different than when I was here last year, the pieces that are growing. I don't want to place a number, but winning is going to be important next year.”
Next year is likely to be better with a healthy Joel Embiid playing alongside Nerlens Noel. The lottery awaits, though the Sixers will almost certainly have just one first-round pick. They could have reached four picks in the first round, but other teams didn’t cooperate with wins and losses, leaving those picks protected this year.
There will certainly be more roster changes this offseason to continue the overhaul.
Noel's progress is worth watching.
After missing all of last season with an ACL injury, Noel improved mightily in every aspect. The losses didn’t deter him.
“We want to come back as a group, working hard together throughout the summer and making sure we continue to progress,” said Noel, who sat out Wednesday’s game. “When we do come back we feel like we’re in a better place. We’re going to keep working together to improve as a group. It’s an important summer for us.”