You know things are about to derail when the coach who talked about winning - even amid three seasons of tanking - has suddenly ceased doing so.
Five days after saying he was still trying to win NBA games, 76ers coach Brett Brown was stressing that the goal now is to develop players.
"I'm not going to lose my mind," Brown said.
While they won't come out and say it, the Sixers (23-40) are focused once again on securing a top lottery draft pick. That became more obvious after the recent roster moves.
Joel Embiid, the team's best player, is done for the season with a meniscus tear and a bone bruise in his left knee. The Sixers also dealt away a stellar rim protector and Embiid's backup, Nerlens Noel, and their best shooter, Ersan Ilyasova, before the Feb. 23 trade deadline.
The Sixers acquired swingman Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut (whom they waived), and a protected top-18 pick from the Dallas Mavericks for Noel. For Ilyasova, they received Tiago Splitter and a second-round pick and the right to swap another second-rounder. Splitter has been sidelined all season but could return by the end of the month.
They also signed two players to 10-day contracts, power forward Justin Harper and center Shawn Long.
The roster moves, combined with the Sixers' embarking on a tough 11-game stretch, have the team in position to lose a lot of games over the rest of the season. Eight of their next 11 games will be on the road, beginning Thursday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers (27-35) have won three straight games and were 11/2 games behind the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with 20 games left heading into Wednesday night.
In Portland, the Sixers will face one of the league's top young backcourts. Point guard Damian Lillard is averaging 26 points, 5.9 assists, and 5 rebounds per game. Shooting guard C.J. McCollum isn't too far behind with an average of 23.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists.
Lillard (22 points) and McCollum (21) combined to score 43 points Tuesday in a 126-121 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Allen Crabbe led Portland's balanced attack with 23 points. Jusuf Nurkic finished with 17, and the center secured the victory with two baskets and two foul shots in the final 55 seconds.
Portland's balance enabled it to overcome Russell Westbrook's career-high 58 points.
But the Blazers do not figure to be one of the Sixers' toughest opponents during this stretch. The Sixers will face nine teams that would advance to the playoffs if the regular season ended Tuesday. And Brown's team, of course, is struggling.
"The realities of our roster are very clear to everybody," Brown said. "There's no mystery to what our roster is right now.
"And when you overlay that with who you are about to play, and different situations that we are in as it relates to timing, that defense, offense, all the execution, it's going to take some extra effort and extra luck in finding ways to compete."