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Analyzing the Sixers’ Inability To Come Up Big in Crunch Time

This script is probably familiar to you. The Sixers play well in the first three quarters. They are leading or trailing by a couple points with just 12 minutes to go. You are hoping that the Sixers would be able to hold on in the fourth quarter and come up with a win. In the fourth quarter, the Sixers start to miss shot after shot and turn the ball over at a ridiculous pace. They end up losing the game by a fair amount after playing well in the first three quarters.

The Sixers could not stop LeBron in the 4th quarter.

We have seen this script many times, right? Well, the same thing happened in the Sixers’ 102-93 loss to Miami on Friday night. The Sixers were hanging in there for the first three quarters. They even led the Heat 51-47 at the half and trailed 75-76 at the end of the third quarter.

The Sixers actually had a pretty good chance to upset Miami and end their 16-game winning streak. In the fourth quarter, however, everything fell apart for the Sixers. LeBron and the Heat were able to capitalize on the Sixers’ miscues to go on a 17-4 run over a 5-minute stretch of the fourth.

If you are playing against a team like the Heat, you cannot afford to make mistakes when the game is on the line. That is what separates good teams from bad teams. Good teams take care of the ball and come up big in crunch time by hitting shots, making key defensive plays, and grabbing key rebounds. Bad teams fold under pressure. They miss shots after shots, turn the ball over, and are unable to stop anybody.

The Sixers’ two primary ballhandlers in Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner came up small in the fourth quarter. They were turning over the ball and they could not defend. LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh were able to get easy buckets without anybody challenging them at the rim. It starts with poor perimeter defense and no one protecting the rim. Spencer Hawes doesn’t exactly strike fear in the opponent’s heart.

What happened when the Sixers started playing sloppy in the fourth quarter? They started to give up because they are mentally fragile. That is what bad teams like the Sixers do. They don’t have any confidence in themselves to make plays to help the team win. They hope other guys can make plays for them but nobody steps up.

Holiday didn’t make enough plays (via Getty Images).

Who is to blame for the Sixers’ fourth quarter collapse on Friday night? Jrue Holiday is the team’s best player and he is supposed to be the team leader. It is his job and responsibility to keep the game under control and make sure that his guys have the confidence to do their jobs. He was unable to do that. He came up small. It had a huge effect on the rest of the team. It all starts with your best player coming up big in crunch time. The rest of the team will follow (see: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant).

But Jrue is not the only one who deserves blame. Doug Collins has to assume responsibility for his team’s poor play in the fourth quarter. The head coach is the unquestioned leader of the team. It is his responsibility to instill a winning mentality and make sure his guys are ready to play. He has to put his guys in a position to make plays. He has to motivate his players and keep their confidence high. He could not do that on Friday night, and he’s been unable to do that all season long.

Everybody on the team should assume responsibilities for their poor play in the fourth quarter on Friday night and during the season but it all starts at the top. The Sixers are lacking talent but if guys at the top fail to step up, the rest of the team will crumble.

Good teams have strong leadership at the top. They come up with big plays in crunch time. The Sixers are the opposite of that. It is time for everybody on the team to look at the mirror and assume responsibilities for their fourth quarter collapses this season. You are not going to win anything in the league without having a winning mentality.

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Categories: 76ers, Editorial

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