Okay, I have no choice here.
The Sixers are now 2-11 in games decided by 7 points this season. NBA teams, generally, split close games over a period of time. This assumes, of course, that teams achieve a certain level of success in crunch time situations on offense and defense. The level of offense expected is actually very low – last minute shot conversions are generally lower than the rest of the game. So it’s reasonable to expect struggles scoring in late games. Most teams do.
However, the Sixers suck everywhere in these situations. Offense, defense, decision-making, play-calling, you name it. We suck. Everywhere. It’s not one incident – it’s a series of mistakes, miscues, and mis-executions. It’s a series of mental and physical mistakes. It’s like getting your heart ripped out in thousands of unique ways that all still end up with your heart being ripped out.
The one constant in every situation, though, is a baffling lack of play-calling. The Sixers stick to their sets during games like a religion: if they fail to run the play or break a play, they’ll get banished or excommunicated from the team. Mo Speights found that out the hard way – he didn’t play his role well enough, and he got banished to Memphis for almost nothing. The team plays by the rules. Granted, this works very well in some respects. The Sixers have one of the best defenses in the NBA, statistically. They are very disciplined in every other respect of the game.
Which makes is seem so much stupider (I don’t care if this isn’t a word, it is now) that they fail to understand that not running a play at all in any key situations will work out poorly. It’s crazy that they don’t run anything. They struggle enough to score in the half-court game with plays. They should, theoretically, absolutely stink without them, unless you want to consider the plays useless. But still, no plays are run. For instance, here’s my re-creation of the end of game “play” versus Milwaukee Monday night:
Notice, there was no movement indicated above. The 4 players in the corners didn’t move, sans Andre Iguodala’s attempt to prevent a Lou Williams turnover. Lou Williams took 10 seconds to finally get by Brandon Jennings, who then put up a floater over two defenders. Lou didn’t have a realistic passing option because, in the quest to prevent a double team without sending a big to set a pick, they put all four offensive players aside from Williams in the corners. Based on the offense’s positioning, the defenders could conceivably cover any passes to either corner shooter in each corner as well as defend the paint if Jennings couldn’t. Lou had no choice but to shoot it himself somehow. The fact that he got to the rim is a miracle in itself. And because Ilyasova was able to get back to defend the paint, Lou missed the floater. Thaddeus Young then tried an acrobatic tip-in that had little chance to go in. Game essentially over.
At this point, everyone is picking up on the trend – the Sixers can’t win close games. They fail because they fail to do anything to win them. This isn’t all bad luck. This isn’t mostly bad luck. This isn’t something to feel sorry for. This is poor coaching and poor execution. There’s no other way to put it.
A brilliant man named Albert Einstein once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The only thing preventing me from insanity is that the Sixers keep finding new ways to fail. I have a hard time imagining that the people running this basketball team are insane, but they sure are driving me and other fans to that point.