Sixers Continue To Struggle In Close Games

It has become more than just a passing trend. The 76ers are 2-10 in games that have been decided by seven or fewer points following Wednesday’s 92-88 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

What is interesting is that of those 12 games, 10 came against teams that entered Thursday with a .500 or better record. The only exceptions were a 102-99 loss at Utah and a 97-90 overtime defeat to the visiting New Jersey Nets. So it shows the Sixers have been competitive, but now they need to take the next step.

Here is the breakdown.

Sixers losses in games decided by seven or fewer points

103-107 at Portland

99-102 at Utah

79-85 at New York

104-108 Denver OT

90-97 NJ OT

77-78 LA Clippers

75-82 Dallas

91-92 at Minnesota

87-93 at Houston

88-92 Oklahoma City

 Sixers wins in games decided by seven or fewer points

74-69 Orlando

95-90 LA Lakers

The loss to a Thunder team that is the consensus choice to earn the Western Conference’s NBA finals berth, was an example of the Sixers inability to close out a team, albeit a talented one like Oklahoma City.

The Sixers led 84-77 with 5 minutes and 32 seconds left but would then miss 11 straight shots, Oklahoma City got back into the game before finally winning it.

“It’s frustrating to lose whether by one point game or 30 points,” Sixers guard Lou Williams said following Thursday’s practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “It’s a little added (frustration); when you are so close, one possession away, you start paying attention to everything, one missed layup a missed free throw and those only things that goes into those type of losses."

The Sixers maintained their confidence hasn’t taken a hit from so many close defeats.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a confidence thing at all,” forward Thaddeus Young said. “We are always going to maintain high level of confidence and will try to keep that up each and every game.”  

Coach Doug Collins felt that the Sixers could have possibly gotten over the hump with a 95-90 win on Feb. 6 over the Los Angeles Lakers. In that game the Sixers trailed 88-84 before outscoring the Lakers, 11-2 the rest of the way.

“I thought it was a great win over the Lakers,” Collins said. “We battled back and hit some big shots to win the game.”

Since that win, the Sixers are 0-5 in games decided by seven points or fewer.

“We have played some very tough teams and have not been able to finish those games off,” Collins said. “As a coach I hold myself incredibly accountable that I have to try to do a better job of maybe even getting us better shots, but we had nine wide open shots in the fourth quarter (against Oklahoma City).”

One problem is that when games are tight, teams force the Sixers into a half-court offense, which isn’t their strength. In addition, there is no super star such as Kevin Durant, who wants to take the big shot and more often than not, makes it.

So until the Sixers can win a few of these close game, especially against quality teams, the questions, at least from the outside will persist. And so will the frustration and disappointment at not finishing teams off.