A popular pick to win the Northwest Division, the Oklahoma City Thunder haven't often looked like a potential playoff threat in splitting their first six games.
Lately, they've more closely resembled a contender for the lottery.
The Thunder have been soundly beaten in three of their last four games, a funk they'll try to snap out of Wednesday night as they continue a four-game homestand against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Oklahoma City (3-3) jumped from 23 wins to 50 last season, and another leap was expected from a team that features reigning scoring champ Kevin Durant along with the emerging Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green.
So far, the Thunder are stuck in neutral. They're the league's worst 3-point shooting team at 21.5 percent and near the bottom in field-goal percentage offensively (41.5) and defensively (48.1).
Those disparities have led to some ugly defeats. Oklahoma City fell by a combined 35 points to Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers last week. After an overtime win in Portland on Thursday, they looked lost again on offense in a 92-83 home loss to Boston on Sunday, a contest Green missed with a sprained ankle.
Slow starts have been perhaps the Thunder's biggest issue. They've trailed by an average of 13.3 points at halftime in their last four games, including a 21-point deficit against the Celtics.
"Would we like to be 6-0? Yes, a lot of teams would like to do that," coach Scott Brooks said. "... I don't look at it like we're struggling. We're 3-3. There's room to improve and this team has the ability to improve. We have to find it and keep pushing it out of our guys."
Getting back Green, who's averaging 19.4 points, would be a good start. The fourth-year forward's status is uncertain against Philadelphia (2-5).
Durant is shooting 39.4 percent -- 8.2 below what he shot last season. Considering he takes 28.0 percent of his team's shots -- by far the most in the league -- it's easy to see why Oklahoma City is struggling.
The 76ers aren't sure if they'll have one of their top players available Wednesday, either, but they didn't let Andre Iguodala's strained Achilles' tendon hurt them Sunday in New York. Elton Brand more than made up for his absence, reaching the 20-point mark for a fourth straight game in a 106-96 win.
"I remember back in the day (Elton) was a beast. He's just been hurt the last couple of years," said rookie Evan Turner, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds in place of Iguodala. "But I feel like he's really healthy and he's out there being a warrior."
Brand hasn't had a streak of 20-point games this long since a seven-game run in 2006-07 with the Clippers, and he could have a great chance for another big night Wednesday. The Thunder are among the league's worst defensive teams in the paint, allowing 48.0 points per game.
The other key matchup is between Westbrook and Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday. The Sixers' second-year point guard has averaged 17.0 points and 7.2 assists in his last five games, and his speed should be a good test for Westbrook, whom Holiday succeeded in UCLA's starting backcourt during his only college season.
Westbrook has shot 26.1 percent in four meetings with the 76ers, but the Thunder have won the past three matchups.
Westbrook had 29 assists in two games matched up with Holiday last season.