But in the first half, it WAS close. The other team, the San Antonio Spurs were actually ahead for a while. Then Philadelphia scored and went ahead, but San Antonio went on a run themselves and retook the lead. In the end the Sixers pulled ahead because that one guy Embiid went crazy and scored 70 which hasn’t been done in a long, long time. You get the picture.

Let’s say your team was the Sixers and the score at one point is 14 to 10 with the Sixers ahead. Subtract those two numbers, 14 – 10 and you get 4. But what if the Spurs score 5 straight points with the Sixers scoring any.

If you think about it, does the actual score make any difference? What matters is who’s ahead.

So what happens to your team’s lead of 4 points if the OTHER team scores 5 straight points? Well, pretty clearly your team is not ahead any more. The other team scored enough not just to TIE, but to go AHEAD and take the lead. It would be 4 + -5 = -1.

Obviously, you could still just add the 5 to the Spurs 10 when it was 14 to 10, and get 15 for them so it was now 14 to 15. And you can see again THIS way your team is indeed down by a point.

By the way, most fans will say the higher number first, like 15 to 14 or even just 15-14, but then say who’s ahead. So 14-10 Sixers, but wait now it’s 15-14 Spurs.

If we’re down a point remember that’s like -1. What if we score a 3-pointer? We’ve gone from down one to being ahead – but by how much? One of the three points from the 3-pointer brought us from down one to being tied, but there’s two more points left from the 3 pointer. 3 – 1 = 2. So now we’re ahead by 2.

But what if when we were down by one the OTHER team scored a 3-pointer? We can’t be ahead after THAT. How do you do that?

Because we were already down, and then you could say went down some MORE – because the other team scored – we could just add the two deficits together, the one point down and the three pointer. 1 + 3 = 4.

So the answer is positive 4? Nope, NEGATIVE 4. You CAN just rearrange the signs and move the numbers around just like that, putting the negative on the 4 because you know it has to be.

Now what if the numbers are bigger? Same thing.

Recently the Charlotte Hornets, one of the worst teams in the league I might add, was losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves, one of the best teams in the league – by 18. The score was 107-89. The Hornets finished the game strong, outscoring the Timberwolves by 21.

So did they come back and win? Yes, they did. They were down 18 and scored MORE than 18 to take the lead. The problem would be -18 + 21 = 3.

If you ignore the signs for a second and just look at the numbers without the signs – what math teachers call the number’s absolute value, by the way – you see easily that 21 is greater than 18. And you will know the answer is – like the 21 – positive. So +3 is the answer, and the final difference in the score of the game.

But what if the Hornets comeback fell just short? What if it was -18 + 17? They would’ve been down 18 and outscored the Wolves by 17 to finish the game – BUT it wouldn’t have been enough. The Hornets would’ve still lost, by just one point. Why? Because -18 + 17 = -1.

Now I did say the Hornets were one of the worst teams in the league so what if – like too many of the rest of their games this season – they were down by 18 and for the rest of the game got outscored by another 12 points? That would be -18 + -12 = -30.

OK, that’s it for now. If you made it this far, I salute you. Keep in mind that listening to or reading “math talk” like this will make your brain stronger even if you don’t fully get it yet.

So keep going and don't give up, don't ever give up!

Remember, every problem you try, every blog you read, is building YOUR strength in numbers.

Thanks for learning.