The Philadelphia 76ers’ hopes of heading to the Super Bowl ended almost as quickly as the dreams of the Minnesota Vikings.
Only it was the Memphis Grizzlies playing spoiler this time, not the Philadelphia Eagles.
In a pregame interview on Monday night, Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporter Molly Sullivan that a few of his players had already inquired about going to watch their football friends compete in Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4. Brown said the team would charter a flight to Minneapolis for the big game as long as they met one big condition.
Brett Brown just told @NBCSPhilly that a couple of his players have already asked to attend the Super Bowl. Joel Embiid told me this morning he’s in, if Coach is. The deal? Brett said if they go undefeated the next eight games, they can charter from Indy to Minny.
— Molly Sullivan (@MollySullivanTV) January 22, 2018
That seemed like a pretty nice carrot on a stick for a team that came into Monday’s contest winning seven of its last eight games and inhabiting the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Alas, before players could even consult their calendars to see the odds of fulfilling Brown’s challenge, the 76ers faltered, blowing a 15-point third quarter lead to the Grizzlies and losing 105-101. Joel Embiid went 5-of-13 from the field for 15 points while Ben Simmons scored just six. Philadelphia turned the ball over 24 times leading to 39 Grizzlies points.
The Sixers are now 22-21 and own a one-game lead on the Pistons for the final playoff spot.
It would have been an uphill challenge to win all eight, anyway. After hosting the resurgent Bulls on Wednesday, the Sixers will head on the road to play the Spurs, Thunder, Bucks and Nets. They’ll then return home to play the Heat before playing in Indianapolis on Super Bowl eve.
Brown could always amend his challenge for the Sixers to go seven-for-seven, but something tells us Super Bowl fans won’t have to worry about a group of very tall men blocking the view from their expensive seats.
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