Not Enough Closure

When all is said and done, the 76ers are having a good season, better than I or anyone else in Philly or the basketball world expected. However, come playoff time, not having a closer is going to hurt this team immensely.

These two are perfect examples of closers; the Sixers' Eastern foes seem to have the edge late in games.

Playing in a conference with the star-studded Heat, Bulls, Magic, and Knicks has hurt the Sixers and will continue to burn them until they make a move to bring someone in, or someone on this team shows up to play in the fourth quarter. For years, the Sixers have relied on Andre Iguodala to make the right play, the tough shot, or even the game-winning shot. But as we all know, Iguodala is not the shining star or the closer for Philadelphia.

During Andre’s career, there have been 25 occasions that the Sixers are down 3 points or less, and have the ball in the last possession of games. He has gotten the ball 22 of those 25 times. Yet, he seems to come up short every time. He has made the game-deciding shot only 4 times in his career. He has missed it 18 times. For some reason, the coaching staff all seem to think that he is the guy who can get it done at the end of games in Philadelphia. Iguodala seems to make his shots in the first three quarters of games, while also contributing mightily on the defensive side of the ball.

Unfortunately, hse always seems to take the three with a minute left in the game, down two, and always comes up short. This hurts us because the next possession, the other team makes a shot to put us down four or five. Suddenly, that three that Iguodala takes is crucial to the deciding of who will win and it looks like it will not be the Sixers who win it. So, why does Iguodala continue to get the ball? It seems that the coaching staff has faith in Iguodala. But, it also seems that they are just using prayer and hope as their faith in him. He just does not show up down the stretch.

Well then, who else can they rely on to make shots? Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand and maybe Evan Turner could be the answer.

Lou has been the answer at times, but teams are starting to figure him out (USA).

Lou Williams has gotten the ball, and he has come through for the most part. Last season, he hit two game-tying three pointers in the closing seconds of games, one of which was from half court. However, the opposing defense now knows that there is only one play for Williams, and it goes to the corner every time. So, they know that they can just force a turnover by just double-teaming Lou. OKC did this and they got the result they were looking for.

Thaddeus Young has shown up, too. Similarly to Iguodala, he continues to take jump shots when his strength is scoring around the basket. As we all know, Thad is not the most consistent jump shooter in the world. He seems to have the right idea, though, He has taken the ball to the basket and has gotten layups and a few and-1s. However, big men can block him or steal it from Thad because he is not that tall.

Elton Brand has come up in the clutch. But,s he relies on his jump shot too much, like Thad, and his jumper his inconsistent as well.

If I were Doug Collins I would give it to Jrue Holiday. He can get to the basket, can get and-1s, and make free throws. He also has a supply of moves that allow him to get a jumper off and his jumper goes in! But for some reason that I do not understand, they never go to Jrue. It could be because Doug Collins believes that he is not developed and he may not have trust in Jrue. But, he should have more faith in Holiday than he should have in Iguodala.

I would also give Evan Turner a chance. The #2 overall pick deserves a little more time. He can carve his way to the basket and has made some incredible plays. But, his jumper lacks, too.

These two youngsters, Holiday and Turner, could be the closers Philly needs to develop.

Throughout this season, the Sixers have been involved in tight games. Early in the fourth quarter, the Sixers take bad shots, look flat, and all hope of a victory seems to diminish. The just stop making shots. I do not know whether they break down under pressure, the opposing defense tightens up, or our squad just gets tired. But with our current roster, we cannot light a spark to make a fourth quarter push and we do not make shots down the stretch.

The “reliable 3-point shooter” in Jodie Meeks does not make shots anymore. Unless the Sixers make some changes before the deadline or someone starts to make shots, the Sixers will continue to die in the fourth quarter unless they are playing an under .500 team, which they usually blow out.

This weakness will hurt us in every close game, in the playoff positioning, and maybe even in the playoffs themselves. It will continue to hurt until there is a change. Every other team has a player that they can rely on to make big shots down the stretch, except us (Knicks – ‘Melo/Lin, Heat – Wade, Bulls – Rose, etc.). Whether we change that, is up to the GM and the players themselves.

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Categories: 76ers, Editorial

Author:Austin Krell

Sixers beat writer and NBA analyst

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