I was not in good shape last night watching the Philadelphia 76ers losing to the New York Knicks for the better part of 48 minutes. I yelled at the TV, buried my head in my hands, cursed every player on their team and then every player on ours. I nearly tore my shirt in half after a couple Trey Burke jumpers. The shots dried up for the Knicks in the fourth quarter and the Sixers somehow came back to win 118-110, but the emotional damage was mostly done at that point. The Sixers may be ready for the postseason, but I am definitely not.
It's been six years since we watched the Sixers in the postseason, but it's been a lot longer than that - I couldn't even tell you how long, exactly - since we watched them with expectation. My main reaction to watching Andre Iguodala hit two free throws to sink the Bulls in Game 6 in 2012 was to laugh hysterically. My primary response to seeing them go down in a hard-fought Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the semis was to shrug and go, "Well, that whole thing was weird." Winning and losing wasn't really that big a deal in those days, even in the postseason, because we knew this wasn't really The Team for Philly.
Now? When this team in the midst of scrapping for postseason position and looks like they're going to drop a dumb game on the road to a crappy lottery team that doesn't even want to win, it's friggin' Armageddon. As much as I was looking forward to the Sixers' relatively easy end-of-season schedule, now I'm wondering if I should've been dreading it all along, because we're bound to lose one or two of these games - hell, just this Wednesday, Milwaukee lost in Orlando and Miami fell to Sacramento in OT - and I am totally unprepared to handle it when that happens. Don't these guys know we could get to the 3-seed? WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN HAPPENING? And so on.
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers and their rivals in the NBA from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
In a way, it's exciting to care this much - about something other than avoiding historic infamy or achieving lottery pole position, even. This is how sports should feel, sort of. But I wonder if Sixers fans are underestimating just what a toll this first Process postseason run is gonna take on us, and this isn't even really the postseason run that's supposed to matter for these guys. Is this what Spurs fans have gone through for 20 seasons straight? Sounds exhausting.
The Sixers host the Nets tonight. Let's hope for one of those Pistons-style Friday night blowouts. Back-to-back nights of this in March and I might not even make it to April.