The Philadelphia 76ers are the not-so-proud co-owners of the worst losing streak in NBA history. With their 120-98 loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday, they have lost 26 games in a row. That equals the mark set by the 2010-2011 Cleveland Cavaliers.
Current Sixers Byron Mullens, James Nunnally, Henry Sims, Jarvis Varnado and Casper Ware are winless since arriving in Philadelphia. The last time the Sixers were victorious, Evan Turner hit a game-winner. That was Jan. 29. Thaddeus Young doesn't even remember it.
Twenty-six will become 36 if Philadelphia loses the rest of its games, and the Sixers would like to avoid that. When might that happen? Let's take a look.
March 29 vs. Detroit Pistons
Saturday might be their best shot. The Pistons will be on the second half of a back-to-back after playing the Miami Heat on Friday. Detroit has lost 16 of its last 19 games, and the history being made in Philadelphia doesn't make that fact any less awful. Sure, the Sixers have lost their three previous meetings against the Pistons, but the streak means Philadelphia should be more motivated. With the playoffs out the window, games have never meant less to Detroit than they do now.
March 31 @ Atlanta Hawks
A playoff team! Well, a "playoff" team. Atlanta has lost five games in a row and is nine games under .500. This isn't unwinnable. And it would be nice to end the streak against the team that started it. The Sixers were booed at home the last time they played the Hawks on Jan. 31, when they were down 102-75 at the end of the third quarter.
April 2 vs. Charlotte Bobcats
Philadelphia has actually beaten this team before. On Jan. 15, Michael Carter-Williams and Turner combined for 43 points on 18-for-34 shooting. Spencer Hawes had 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Young hit a go-ahead three-pointer with three seconds left. The problem is that Turner and Hawes are gone and Young hasn't even been in the position to hit an important late-game shot in the past couple of months. Well, except for that game against the New York Knicks last week, when James Anderson fumbled the ball away in the final seconds with Young wide open in the corner.
April 4 @ Boston Celtics
The Celtics play the Pistons the following night, and they're holding Rajon Rondo out of back-to-backs. If they decide to bench him, that will help. Earlier this month, Boston lost by 24 points at home to the New York Knicks without Rondo. The Knicks started Cole Aldrich at center. This wouldn't be a bad bet, and it would ensure at least a tie in the season series. Small (very, very, very small) victories!
April 5 vs. Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn will be in the thick of the race for playoff positioning, so this isn't ideal timing. The Nets will be coming off a game against the Detroit the previous night, though, and their old, tired legs are 5-11 on the back end of of back-to-backs. Even if Kevin Garnett has returned to Brooklyn's lineup by then, he'll probably wind up sitting this out. Anything is possible.
April 9 @ Toronto Raptors
The Sixers have lost by eight, nine and 10 points against Toronto this season. The absence of a blowout is a good sign, right? It isn't easy to beat the Raptors at home, but Toronto has developed a bad habit of letting inferior teams build a lead and having to fight from behind. It occasionally bites them, like in Tuesday's two-point loss in Cleveland.
April 11 @ Memphis Grizzlies
This is the least winnable game on the schedule -- the Grizzlies will likely be battling for their playoff lives and they've been one of the league's best teams since January -- but the NBA is wacky. It would make no sense and perfect sense for the Sixers to somehow squeeze out a win and play spoiler here. Put all your money on Philadelphia.
April 12 @ Charlotte Bobcats
This game will probably mean something for the Bobcats, but there's a chance they'll be settled into the seventh seed. If that's the case, perhaps they will opt to sit Al Jefferson. Few players make as drastic a difference as Jefferson does for his team, and that would give the Sixers an a real opportunity to end the streak at 33, which would match the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' record winning streak.
April 14 vs. Boston Celtics
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has done an admirable job of getting his guys to play hard over the course of the season, even if it hasn't resulted in many wins. Amping everyone up for Game 81 in Philadelphia is a different beast, though. Boston might be checked out, and the Sixers could steal one.
April 16 @ Miami Heat
Oh, how perfect would this be? Remember opening night, when Carter-Williams exploded for 22 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and nine steals and the Sixers shocked the world? If the Basketball Gods exist and curse the Sixers to lose 35 times in a row, it would be only right to give them this one. Plus, if the seedings are decided by then, Miami might rest its stars.