Desperation – Sixers Tough Loss to the Knicks – 82-79

Posted: March 22, 2012 in Hoops, Sixers
Tags: , ,

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(Will Smith, looking more Gator-coming-for-mom’s-TV than Fresh Prince)

I hate to say it, but it really appears the Sixers are in trouble if they can’t start to put it together.  Hawes is back, so that’s not an excuse anymore – he probably needs a couple more games to put it together – but based on the way he’s moving and jumping, I don’t think he’s still bothered much by the Achilles, which means he should start to put up solid numbers again, like he did against Charlotte.  The Sixers seem to have real issues against tough defensive teams.  The Sixers, for the most part, did an amazing job defensively, with Iguodala (primarily) holding Carmelo to 10 points on 5-15 shooting, and Lin (despite a stellar fourth quarter) was held to only 4-17 from the field and just 3 assists.  The key was the Sixers inability to stop Amare, who ravaged the Sixers for 21 points, 9 boards, 2 dimes, and a key block on Elton Brand late.  Both Brand and Hawes are a step too slow for Amare and Thad is just a bit too small.  There aren’t a ton of teams that present the Sixers with this type of match-up problem, but Miami & the Knicks are definitely too of them.

The bigger issue of the day though, is that the Sixers are free falling at 8-14 over their past 22 games.  If they don’t turn it around, starting on Friday, they move from a great position (having a home series in the first round against either the Pacers, Knicks, Celtics, Hawks, or Bucks) to a very weak position (a loss to Boston on Friday would drop them from the 4 spot to the 7 spot in the East).

They’ve been through the toughest stretch of their season and have recently lost a lot of games on the road and at home, most of them against very solid teams, but they’re going to need to win some games against quality opponents if they want to win the Atlantic, particularly with the Celtics playing better of late, and the Knicks on fire.  Circling a few on their upcoming schedule, they have a few big games and they have to win at least half of them to stay on pace for that 4 spot (Bos, @San, Atl, @Mia,Orl, @Bos, @Orl, Ind, @Ind, @Mil), if they can go 5-5 over those 10 games, and go 7-2 in their remaining games against poor competition, they’d finish at 38-28 and have a decent shot the Atlantic division title.  Boston would have to go 14-7 down the stretch to have that record and the Knicks would need to go 15-4.  The Knicks during that stretch have the Clippers, Miami, Chicago twice, Orlando twice, Boston and Indiana (making 4 losses seem like a very conservative estimate) and the Celtics have @Mil, @Phl, Uta, @Min, Mia, San, @Chi,@Ind, Phl, @Mia, Atl, @Nyk, Orl, @Atl, Mia, and Mil (making 7 losses seem very conservative as well).  So while the schedule begins to favor the Sixers from here on out, they’ve lost their momentum and lead in the conference and are competing against teams with veterans poised for the stretch win.  It’s time to show that they’re ready to win some big games, if they want to have any confidence (and advantage) going into the playoffs.

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