Monday, January 16, 2012
Game 13: Wells Fargo Center
Sixers 94, Bucks 82
PHILADELPHIA — Everyone knows by now that the NBA schedule is a little different this season. Because of the lockout, the season did not begin until Christmas day and rather than just pick up the schedule where it would have been, the league and the NBPA agreed to a 66-game season squeezed into four months.
It also means that instead of 15 or 16 games a month, there will be 18 games a month complete with piles of back-to-backs as well as two back-back-to-backs per team.
In other words, the season went from being a grind to a goddamn war.
Another quirk of the 76ers’ schedule is that there are just two day games. What makes this nice is that those who regularly attend NBA games can get into a routine. For a 7 p.m. game, the shoot around typical starts at 10 a.m. and lasts for an hour. After that, the players get in an afternoon nap, maybe some daytime TV and then head back to the arena around 3ish for the game.
A day game, however, is a monkey wrench in the operation. There is no shoot around or afternoon nap. And since most day games are on the weekend, it can put a crimp into a young players’ style a bit.
Case and point: Last year several players on the 76ers went to a concert at the Wells Fargo Center. Normally that’s no big deal except for the fact that the players had to be back at the arena the next morning for a noontime tipoff against the Sacramento Kings. Instead of a victory over a inferior team, the Sixers lost in overtime and didn’t look particularly good in doing so.
But what is one of the best aspects of this team is that the players stepped up and admitted they needed to be more responsible. Better yet, coach Doug Collins told the players that it was up to them to police themselves in that instance. After all, why should the coach have to tell grown men with multi-million dollar salaries when to go to bed?
And that’s the question, isn’t it? How much motivation to well-paid professional athletes need? Considering that they are in a performance driven business, it seems as if motivation would be innate. In fact, motivation should be what separates the top players from the rest. Every player in the NBA is talented and the skill set of the best and the worst players really aren’t too far apart. What divides the likes of Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant from the 12th man on the bench is some intangible that can’t be measure.
Hell, it can’t even be described.
Anyway, the Sixers dropped the Bucks in the first of two day games this season. The next one is on March 10 at Madison Square Garden, which should heighten the magnitude of the game even more. Maybe instead of patrolling Manhattan the night before a noontime tip, the Sixers will remember last year’s game against the Kings.