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For fragile Sixers, next season is the most important thing

The 76ers have little to play for as the 2016-17 season nears its end.
The coaching staff and players will clearly disagree, but the remaining games don’t matter from here on out.
 
Maybe for a fringe D-League player like Shawn Long or Alex Poythress, the final four games count. But with the litany of injuries crushing the 76ers, it’s all about the pingpong balls for the fourth consecutive season.
 
The Sixers were demolished by the lowly Brooklyn Nets, 141-118, Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Eight Nets reached double figures as they won for just the 19th time all season.
 
The Nets set Wells Fargo Center records for points (141), first half points (81) and first half 3-pointers (12). In addition, the Nets shot a blistering 64 percent (48 for 75), including 16 for 31 from beyond the arc. It was the 12th time in franchise history that the Nets shot at least 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point land.
 
Yes, the Sixers (28-50) are depleted with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor, Jerryd Bayless and Robert Covington out for the season. Sergio Rodriguez also missed the game with an injury and Dario Saric is on a 24-minute restriction with a heel injury described as plantar fasciitis.
 
There’s only so much the Sixers can do to compete and that was clearly evident against the Nets. The conclusion of the regular season can’t come soon enough.
 
“What do you say? It's one of those games,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said after the 23-point defeat. “We give Brooklyn credit. We couldn't guard them. None of us could guard any of them. I could just leave and that should be the headline.”
 
All the Sixers can do is play hard over the last four games and then look to the offseason. 
 
“There is a lot of components that next year will be very different,” Sixers guard Justin Anderson told reporters. “We have Ben coming back to play, we have some guys who are injured that are going to get back out there. It’s not just one angle or one component that’s going to be very valuable for us. I can’t wait for training camp with this team, just the way that we do things, the schemes and the system we run is very good. I think all of us have done a great job of adjusting quick. We don’t want to hang excuses or put things in front of why we didn’t win the game. I cannot wait till we get healthy, but were going to keep leaving out hearts out there on the floor.”
 
And then it’s time to hope for the best in the annual NBA lottery. The Sixers will be in the running for players such as Kentucky’s Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox, Washington’s Markelle Fultz — who attended the game Tuesday — UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and Kansas’ Josh Jackson among others.
 
The injured players all could be back with Embiid and Simmons being the two most important ones. They need to return 100 percent healthy and prove that they can be durable and help resurrect this franchise.
 
Free agency awaits. 
 
The 2017-18 season will soon be here. The work starts as soon as the final four games mercifully come to an end.
 

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