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The Polar Opposites of Golden State and Philadelphia

The 2015-16 NBA season is barely a few weeks old, but already we are flushed with riveting storylines that are bound to develop throughout the season. Kobe Bryant just (predictably) announced his retirement, LeBron and the Cavs continue their quest for revenge, Anthony Davis is struggling with the Pelicans, the East is suddenly respectable as a whole, while the Thunder are seeing how Kevin Durant's free agent clock is ticking. And even with all of that and much more going around the league, the dominant story has to be what the defending champions are doing.

After beating the Utah Jazz in a close game on the road, the Golden State Warriors extended their record-breaking best start in the history of the NBA, with 19 straight wins to open a season. While it was certainly expected that the Warriors would be a contender to repeat and maintain their formidable roster, this stunning start to the season has already made NBA history, and taken away many doubts that tend to surround defending champions as they approach a new season. That they've done it without their head coach has added a layer of impressiveness to the streak, serving as testament that Golden State's system and players are the class of the league.

However, the other side of the spectrum comes with another mind-boggling streak to start the season. After falling to the Memphis Grizzlies on the road, the Philadelphia 76ers tied the worst start in NBA history, with a 0-18 mark that is a disgrace for a franchise that has failed dramatically in their attempt to rebuild from the ground up. The Sixers have now lost 28 regular season games in a row, with their last win coming in March against the Nuggets.

When we analyze how each of these franchises, it is hard to believe that they play the same sport in the same league, but we are at this incredible point in which two record-breaking streaks are going in opposite directions at the same time. With the Warriors already drawing comparisons to the '96 Bulls that won 72 games, and the Sixers looking at the similarly lousy Lakers as a chance to break the spell, how do these teams' numbers look when they are compared to each other? Let's take a quick look.








Point Differential






Opp. PPG






3Pt. %



Ast. PG


The numbers are cold, but they only paint a small part of the picture. The Warriors are a machine that has only won 5 games by single digits, while the Sixers have been somewhat respectable in their lousiness, even going 10-8 against the point spread, but ultimately a disgrace in terms of what an NBA franchise should be. Last season, they managed to win only 18 games (which the Warriors have already matched), and this season could finally prove the ultimate disaster that gets GM Sam Hinkie fired and the franchise ready to start a new rebuild.

With Carl Landry being the only player on the roster with more than two years of experience in the NBA (and even he is sidelined until January), it was probably reasonable to expect many growing pains for the likes of Nernels Noel and Jahlil Okafor, but the Sixers have been painful to watch at times. College phenom Joel Embiid is lost yet again for the full season after re-injuring his foot, and so all the promise of development from Philadelphia's youngsters has gone out the window. All Sixers with at least 200 minutes played own a below-average PER, and there is little to suggest that this team won't be among the worst in NBA history.

On the other side, the Warriors are latest example of a perfectly-run NBA franchise, and one that took many risks to reach this point. It may be hard to remember at this point, but the Dubs finished sixth in the West in consecutive seasons in 2013 and 2014, but still decided to fire Coach Mark Jackson in what was an unpopular move at the time. Bringing in Steve Kerr was controversial, but his vision was able to exploit the talents of his unorthodox roster, which has helped turn Stephen Curry into an MVP, and the likes of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green into All-Stars.

Curry is again the front-runner to grab the league MVP, while complementary players like Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli are doing their best to help the team's stars in managing the big leads that are handed to them. It is amazing that the team's only real scare came in an overtime win over the Nets, while already twice winning rough games versus the Clippers, and basically manhandling everything in its presence.

Golden State is now due to face a tough 7-game road trip in which their streak will probably end – the 7 games come over 13 days, with a couple of back-to-backs – but that will do nothing to take away what the Warriors have accomplished and what they are fighting to do. It is important to mention that they are yet to face the Spurs (until January 25), while the rest of the West is probably not as solid as it was in past seasons, but that shouldn't matter to a franchise that is looking more and more like a potential dynasty.

In what may be the most lopsided game in modern NBA history, the Warriors and 76ers are due to face each other in Philadelphia on January 30th, and again in Oakland on March 27th, serving as the biggest contrast the current NBA season has to offer. As much as the league wants to pride itself in supposed parity, the fact that such a difference can exist in the league is bound to create some sort of reforms against tanking in future CBA negotiations.

For now, all we have to do is wait for Golden State's first loss and for Philadelphia's first win. They are bound to be events that end some of the most extreme streaks we will ever see, and serve us as a reminder of how imbalanced life can be at times.

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