HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Philadelphia 76ers are a weird team.
Their leading scorer comes off the bench and they have seven players averaging at least nine points per game. They have the lowest turnover ratio in NBA history and the second-lowest free throw rate of the last 20 years.
What’s craziest is that the Sixers have the league’s fifth-best point differential and only the 15th-best record, thanks to a 24-9 record in games decided by double-digits and a 5-16 record in games decided by single-digits. They win the blowouts and they lose the close games. So either their record is worse than it should be or their point differential is better than it should be.
The Sixers, of course, got off to a terrific start this season, winning 20 of their 29 games before Valentine’s Day. But since then, they’ve gone 9-16, struggling at first to hold onto the Atlantic Division lead and now, maybe to hold onto a playoff spot.
Former Sixers beat writer Kate Fagan writes that players are, at times, tuning out Doug Collins, who appeared to be the No. 1 candidate for the Coach of the Year award less than two months ago..
Since around early March, guys on the team have struggled with Doug Collins’ coaching style. Look, we all knew at the beginning of last year, when Collins took over this young team, that he had a history of turning around young squads. And we also knew that he had (sometimes as early as the second season) a history of over-coaching, at which point his players tend to become frustrated and tune him out. The Sixers have been struggling with this for at least a month, if not longer. This has led to heated interactions, sometimes even in the middle of games. On more than one occasion, players have let Collins know — during a game — that they’re sick of the relentless nitpicking. This incessant nagging (or even the perception of it) leads to fractured relationships. The Sixers have reached the point where, at least some of them, have addressed this issue with Collins. Has it reached the point of tuning him out? At times. Collins has made an effort to try to step back, but he’s only occasionally successful. It’s been day to day.
The numbers don’t point to effort being the problem. The Sixers still have the No. 1 defense in the league and the No. 2 defense since the All-Star break, though their D was pretty terrible in Wednesday’s inexplicable loss to the Raptors.
On the other end of the floor is where the Sixers’ issues really lie. They had the sixth-best offense in the league when they were 20-9 on Valentine’s day. Since then, only the Celtics and Bobcats have been worse offensively. (more…)