On Nov. 29, 2015, the Philadelphia 76ers lost their 28th straight game. It was a losing streak that took so long, it took two seasons to get there. Mercifully, the streak ended the next game … and then they lost the next 12.
The Sixers stood at 1-30, the laughing stock of the league and the poster boys for tanking. Sam Hinkie, the author of “The Process” and the team’s general manager and president of basketball operations, was put in an awkward spot in the middle of the second losing streak: Jerry Colangelo was hired as chairman of basketball operations. Hinkie eventually resigned in April and was replaced by Colangelo’s son, Bryan.
Fast forward to last Wednesday — a mere 864 days after that losing streak ended — and the Sixers had won their 16th straight game with a 130-95 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, making Philly the hottest team in the league headed into the playoffs. Their 52 wins on the season was the most the franchise had won since 2000-01, when the Sixers made it to the NBA Finals and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“The strength of this team is so deep,” Robert Covington told Paul Newberry of the Associated Press. “We’re doing it without Joel, so imagine once we get the head honcho back. He’s definitely going to be ecstatic. There wasn’t really much of a drop-off. We just played a little bit differently. We’ll be glad once he gets back. We just have to hold it down until he gets back.”
Embiid’s absences due to surgery adds to the mystique of what the Sixers are doing. They’re clobbering teams without the man who has become the literal poster boy for the Sixers’ rebuilding efforts, to the point that his nickname is “The Process.”