Solutions to the Sixers’ fourth quarter struggles

Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers are playing very well. Their short-handed loss to the Knicks notwithstanding, the offense has been lights out. The recurrent problem, however, remains that the team still gives up big leads in the fourth quarters. The problem persists because the Sixers lack elite ball handlers or a reliable perimeter creator.

During the first three quarters, the offense can compensate for the lack of an elite ball handler or elite perimeter creator with efficient ball movement. But in the fourth quarter, the offense grinds to a halt. The other team tightens up the defense and applies ball pressure. The Sixers seem content to run out clock without getting a good look. Their fourth quarter offense resembles an NFL team playing prevent defense.

The Sixers’ fourth quarter offense continues to stall. What’s the solution?

Take the final meaningful possession of the first Sixers-Bulls game of last week. The Sixers needed to run out the clock but still score. Seth Curry held the ball as time ticked down while the Bulls defender stood next to him. Seth barely escaped the ball pressure, dribbled into the lane, and made a contested jump shot. Seth is a great shooter, but this can’t be the plan going forward. It’s too unreliable.

It makes sense that Sixers would not want to run the same type of offense while ahead in the fourth quarter: more passing means more opportunities for turnovers. But they have to have better options than simply trying to run out the clock and taking a tough shot.

The easy solution is to trade for a perimeter creator like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal. But they may never become available. The Sixers should seriously look into Jaylen Brown or Dejounte Murray (who has been stuffing the stat sheet in San Antonio). But without a trade, they should consider these solutions: