Andrew Amodei| staff writer
The 2012 NBA season started out fast and furious for the Philadelphia 76ers. The team started out strong with a record of 20-9 and seemed to buy into the system that coach Doug Collins had begun to teach them last season. They caught everyone by surprise and had a firm grasp of the first place spot in the Atlantic Division for most of the first half of the season. Experts and fans thought that because of their youth and fresh legs they would have an advantage with the lockout-shortened season. This advantage proved effective in the beginning of the season.
Then, when everything seemed to be going their way, they started playing poorly and suffered a five-game losing streak heading into the All-Star break. After the break, the Sixers looked like a completely different team. They looked lost and it was evident that their inexperience had finally caught up with them.
The players who had carried them in the first half of the season started to struggle. Center Spencer Hawes, who had a phenomenal start to his season, began to have injury problems and has not been the same since. He looked like a shell of his former self when he finally came back from injury. Hawes has only played in 33 games this season and his production has slowly declined as the season has gone on. Another player that has slowed down is Evan Turner. There was a glimpse of brightness from Turner at one point, but that flame was quickly extinguished. He is now averaging only nine points per game.
Another focal point that could explain the downfall of the Sixers is that their schedule got much tougher as the season advanced. In the early part of the season they fed on the weak teams in the league, such as the New Jersey Nets, Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards. Playing these kinds of teams was one of the main reasons the Sixers got off to that great 20-9 start. After the All-Star break -which is when the trouble all began- their schedule get exponentially harder, and they started playing teams like the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics more frequently. Couple that with the Sixers’ diminishing level of play and you have a recipe for disaster.
The Sixers have not been able to handle the winning teams this season and that is one of their biggest problems. They are 25-19 against their conference, 19-14 at home but only 13-16 on the road. And therein lies an even bigger problem for the Sixers- their inconsistency. They haven’t found consistency all year and their record shows it, along with their statistics.
To be a good team, and to eventually become a great team, the Sixers must learn to win on the road. The ability to win on the road is crucial to win a championship in the NBA. The Sixers haven’t been able to show that they can win on the road, which indicates that they may have difficulty in the playoffs as they will certainly be playing a higher seeded team and thus play most of their games on the road. Since starting 20-9 the Sixers have only put up a record of 12-21.
With the playoffs quickly approaching, the team needs to wake up and get ready for the playoffs and their potential opponents. The Sixers are most likely going to be the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and chances are that they will face the #1 Chicago Bulls. This will certainly be a very tough matchup for the Sixers and not exactly the matchup the fans envisioned for the Sixers when they got off to that hot start. The Sixers will have to somehow play like their early-season selves if they hope to have a chance against the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers have played pretty well against the Bulls this season and must continue that to have a chance against them in the postseason.
The season started out so bright and hopeful for the Philadelphia 76ers. For most fans it felt like 2001 all over again, which is when the Sixers made it to the NBA Finals. This was the team’s best start since that year. However, a dark cloud soon covered the team and they became the same mediocre team they have been for years. They have shown flashes of excellence under head coach Doug Collins but have not been able to keep it going. Maybe this disappointing finish to the regular season will be enough to help turn this team around. It is amazing to think about how hot this team was with many thinking they would win the Atlantic Division, and now they are barely squeezing into the playoffs. Many Sixers fans are already saying what has become a very popular saying around Philadelphia, “Maybe next year”.