Before a trip to Orlando to face the Magic back on February 15th, the Sixers were riding high at 20-10 and taking the Eastern Conference and pundits by storm.
Just over a week later and the young Sixers find themselves sporting a season-long five-game losing streak heading into a rare six-day break from game action in the season’s ultra-packed 66-game schedule.
So what exactly has gone wrong in the past five games for Doug Collins’ Sixers?
Well, the answer lies in a multitude of reasons, starting on the offensive side of the ball. The Sixers have been held under 80 points twice during the streak and haven’t topped 91 points in any of those five losses. While the team hasn’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut this season (94 points per game, 14th in NBA), they’ve had some offensive outbursts in spurts. But the offense has gone silent in recent games, even dating back before the streak started. The Sixers haven’t topped the 100-point mark since Jan. 23 against the lowly Wizards.
The Sixers have also seen their shooting percentages drop in the last five games, dropping under 40% as a team in three of the five losses, well below their 44.9% as a team on the season. The three-ball hasn’t been falling either, as the team sported an 0-9 from behind the arc in last night’s loss in Houston.
Injuries have also played a role in the streak, as the team now finds itself without the services of both Spencer Hawes (who has missed most of the season with multiple ailments) and now Elton Brand for the past two games with a thumb injury. Hawes was enjoying a fast start, nearly averaging a double-double, before giving way to his strained achilles. Hawes is in a walking boot and expected to be out until after the All-Star break.
Philadelphia also fell victim to some rather poor officiating lately, namely in the Minnesota loss, where Kevin Love was awarded free-throws with under a second left in the game on a questionable call. The call prompted players post-game to ask that referees call the game and not decide it, Collins himself wasn’t enthused and said “I’m not going to go there” when asked about the call.
But if there is a silver lining in the club’s recent losing streak, it’s that it comes at a great time schedule wise with a six day break that should allow Doug Collins and his team to make adjustments. Collins is widely regarded for his ability to make tweaks, something that he should have time to do with some much needed practice time (Collins recently said that the team has practiced just a handfull of times the whole season).
The Sixers look to break the streak on Tuesday when they head to the Palace at Auburn Hills to take on a Pistons squad that they’ve beaten badly twice already, having outscored them by 20 points in both games.
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