Now comes the cruel part. Hope. False hope.
As the 2018 NBA playoffs have proven thus far, home court is an advantage. A big one.
The top four seeds in the East advanced to the conference semifinals. The top two in the West reached the conference semifinals, and the two upstarts out there are now 6-1 on their own floor.
Boston, though, is the ultimate Jekyll-Hyde team out of the eight still alive. The Celtics are absolutely dynamite in their friendly confines and positively dreadful on the road.
So, Sixers fans, beware. Down and seemingly out with your boys taking an oh-2 shot to the chin up in Beantown, much of that pre-series bluster and blowhard talk siphoned out of your system in the process, you're now looking at a life raft and lottery ticket headed your way.
The Celtics are 6-0 this postseason at TD Garden, performing at optimum level enough to either blow out the competition or just get by it, “your team, your town, your 76ers” included.
They're 0-3 away from it (and a combined 4-9 the previous three postseasons), and looking pretty ugly, if not pathetic.
Don't expect that to change tonight when the legendary rivals of the 1960s and '80s meet up again at the Wells Fargo Center, with the trap-door bravado likely to emerge from within Sixers fans.
Here's the rub, though. Even if the Sixers knot the best-of-seven series at 2-all with Games 3 and 4 wins in South Philly, they still gotta go back to Boston … and the Celtics feed off that crowd and adrenaline and vibe it supplies.
Frankly, no argument here that the Sixers, right now, have more skilled basketball players across the board. It's not just Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. It's guys such as Dario Saric, Ersan Ilyasova, Marco Belinelli, J.J. Redick and, heck, Robert Covington, too.
But Boston has good players across the board, and they're a much more athletic, physical and fast team all around.
That extra “ummph” being at home provides really matters for the Celtics. Even against more hoops-specific talent.
Especially when the latter's coach refuses to adapt to situations that scream for change … or a timeout.
Not for nothing, but if we're going to en masse rewrite the narrative to Brett Brown's coaching abilities once his squad started to put things together the second half of the regular season, then we damn sure need to hold him accountable for silly stubbornness or outright stupidity.
Hey, considering the above ode to Boston's play at home, it's likely the Sixers were going to lose Games 1 and 2 no matter what. But Brown's decisions sealed that, particularly Thursday night.
This is no time to adhere to the process learning curve. It's the playoffs. You do what you can to win. Period.
Why? Because there is no guarantee you ever get back to that point.
Sports, if you want to be successful, are the essence of being in the moment. No more so than in the postseason.
You can worry about “the kids” dealing with a dwindling lead some other time. Same thing with Simmons' ego when ridiculously undervalued sub T.J. McConnell is ridiculously outperforming Mr. Transcendental Player.
The fact Brown continues to keep his bench on a leash, failing to utilize the energy and aggressiveness that McConnell, Justin Anderson and Richaun Holmes could provide an outfit in dire need of it against a team like Boston.
Enough with the protection of Markelle Fultz, too. Those who dime out mob bosses fade less into the deep-cover abyss.
Look, the kid's play ain't ever going to be able to justify that idiotic trade between the two teams that saw Sixers get last June's No. 1 pick and him cemented in warm-ups while Boston get two top-5 picks, including one, Jayson Tatum, who already is showing himself to be cusp of All-Star caliber in his rookie season.
But that ain't the fault of Fultz. That's the fault of the Sixers' personnel people, who failed to grasp the potential immediate returns, or lack there of, and the reality that the difference in talent between Fultz and Tatum PLUS whoever that next draft pick turns out to be was never enough to justify such a move.
Not playing him only compounds the confusion.
Which may be off the charts anyway should the series head back to Boston at 2-2.