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Inside the Sixers: Sixers' offensive deficiencies have been apparent - Philadelphia Inquirer

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Inside the Sixers: Sixers' offensive deficiencies have been apparent - Philadelphia Inquirer
Apr 1st 2012, 06:15

The last week and a half of the 76ers' season has been particularly disconcerting, especially when factoring in the high-stakes nature attached to every game until they close out the regular season at Detroit on April 26.

A home victory over Cleveland without Andre Iguodala in the lineup was pretty much to be expected. With Iguodala missing his second game because of tendinitis in his left knee, Jodie Meeks stepped in with a career-high 31 points and the Sixers, coming off a loss at San Antonio, cruised, 103-85.

Two games prior, also at the Wells Fargo Center against rival Boston, the Sixers fell behind by 10 points in the first quarter but responded with a dominant second half, scoring 37 points in the third quarter - the most points they have scored in a quarter since they put up 38 against the Knicks back on March 11 - and 56 in the second half in a win that gave the Sixers the all-important tiebreaker over the Celtics.

But losses to Washington, San Antonio, and New York were troubling in that, again, the Sixers' extreme offensive deficiencies were laid plain.

Losers of five in a row, Washington, which dismantled the Sixers, 97-76, on Friday, was ranked 27th in points allowed per game at 100.4 and 22d in opponents' field goal percentage (45.6) going into Saturday's games.

One night earlier, the Wizards had lost their fifth game in a row, on the road at Indiana.

On the same day that the Wizards lost at Indy, the Sixers were extolling the virtues of being able to get two days' rest in a season in which recovery of this length is rare. They told anyone within hearing range that there was no way they would overlook moribund Washington.

But instead of capitalizing against a team that has demonstrated its defensive incompetency all season long, the Sixers turned in a listless and disconnected performance. In a game in which the body language of the coach and the players was as bad as it has been at any point this season during and after the game, the Wizards held the Sixers to 36.6 percent shooting, made 48 percent of their own field goals, and followed the lead of a D-league player on a 10-day contract, Cartier Martin, to an inexcusably easy victory over a Sixers team that had won these teams' first three meetings by an average of more than 21 points.

The loss marked the second time in three games that the Sixers had scored just 76 points, and the third time in five games that they failed to break 80. That's an indication that the offense, which at one point went a stretch of 19 games unable to produce a 100-point game, is still very much broken.

This unmotivated, unresponsive performance in many ways resembled their March 25 loss to San Antonio. While there are no similarities between the seasons the Spurs and the Wizards are having, the coincidence is that both teams could have been easy victims for the Sixers - the Spurs were playing their third game in a row and Tim Duncan did not play - but both won going away.

The Sixers scored just 11 points in the fourth quarter and only 27 in the second half of a 93-76 Spurs rout. After scoring 20 points in the paint in the second quarter, the Sixers - their 27 second-quarter points equaled their entire second-half output - looked as if they had found a weakness that they could exploit against the undermanned Spurs.

But their offense never showed up in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter when, with the game still potentially winnable, the Sixers were just 4 for 21 from the field and scored just 11 points.

It was their lowest-scoring fourth quarter of the season. Unfortunately, it was just eight quarters removed from the 11 points they opened up with against New York - another season low - in an 82-79 loss. Unable to close against the Spurs, the Sixers missed their first 14 field goals against New York and set the tone for yet another night of offensive futility.

Unless there is a total collapse, the Sixers should continue to be among the best defensive teams in the league. Teams should continue to struggle to score against them, something that has been the case all year without the presence of a legitimate shot-blocker.

But it won't matter much if the Sixers continue to have the same problems putting up points that other teams have doing the exact same thing against them.


Inside the Sixers: Scoring Issues

It's hard to address offensive problems when your leading scorer barely cracks the top 50 in the league, and he doesn't start. But that's just one scoring problem the 76ers have as they try to overtake the Celtics and win the Atlantic Division. Here are some more sad scoring stories for the Sixers this season (statistics through Friday's games):

Lou Williams, the Sixers' leading scorer (15.5 points per game), was 44th in the NBA.

You want three-pointers? Only Jodie Meeks, at 21st in the league with 85, was in the top 40 in the league in three-pointers made.

The 76ers were 23d in the NBA in scoring (93.6), and that includes having surpassed 100 points in five of the last 12 games, plus 99 against Boston on March 23.

No help from the big men: Elton Brand's 10.6 scoring average rated 91st in the NBA. Keep in mind: There are just 30 teams. 

- Gary Potosky


Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow him on Twitter @JmitchellInquirer

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