The sellout crowd of 20,848 was loud, Joel Embiid waved his hands to get them going and everything seemed rosy.
Then “The Process” suddenly came crashing to a halt and those same fans were fleeing for the exits in the waning minutes.
The 76ers played 24 spectacular minutes of basketball and 24 frustrating minutes of basketball all wrapped up in the same game against the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
What was a 74-52 lead at halftime turned into a maddening 124-116 loss.
Should it really be that stunning?
The Sixers are still very much a work-in-progress after 15 games with an 8-7 record. They’re going to play very, very well at times. They’re going to struggle at times. The passionate “Process” supporters don’t seem to understand how vital on-court experience really can be.
Steph Curry (35 points) and Klay Thompson (17 points) didn’t mesh in a limited amount of games together with the Warriors. They had seasons together.
In the first half, the Sixers couldn’t miss. Every shot seemed to drop through the hoop.
The veteran-laden Warriors never panicked and had a third quarter to remember with 47 points. Curry alone scored 20 in the third.
The Sixers scored a total of 42 points in the second half. Their young standouts in Ben Simmons (23 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds) and Embiid (21 points and eight rebounds), performed at an extremely high level in large stretches. Then there were the other moments when they needed to step up and make something happen and it didn’t take place.
These types of games will transpire this season. The Sixers are finally trending in the right direction, but they’re far from a finished product.
“For us to stay sane, for us to be smart and move the program forward, we need to learn from this night, learn from what we did in the first half and not so well in the second half,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “That’s my move, that’s my mindset. Our goal is to be a playoff team and we will take this and we will not have meltdowns. We will figure out how to move us forward. We ended this in a way we can educate and help our guys.”
Whenever they lose a game, the Twitter world goes bonkers and calls for Brown to be fired. It’s not a reasonable universe following a loss yet this young group is going to lose games.
This isn’t the same franchise which won 75 games over the previous four seasons. There are players now with incredible ability. They will come together and win games this season. How many is anybody’s best guess.
The Sixers are not ready to compete deep in the playoffs. They’re not at the level of the Warriors.
“I mean, we can sit here and talk about the made shots and the offense and how they move the ball, but I’m more impressed by what they do defensively,” Embiid said. “Especially for me, they had me guessing. I mean the double-team was coming the whole night from the top, from the baseline, from the post-fade, so they really had me guessing and I think that’s what they do well. They play together and they’ve got each other’s back and they play great defense.”
The Sixers are also quite banged up with key role players such as Jerryd Bayless, Justin Anderson and Markelle Fultz out.
The future is quite bright. Will it ultimately result in a parade down Broad Street? Maybe.
Just not this season.