The Philadelphia 76ers are having a huge letdown of a season. With Andrew Bynum's status still unknown, the lack of a reliable big man is starting to take its toll.
Just take a look at Doug Collins. He was having the time of his life when he served as color commentator as Team USA won men's basketball gold at the 2012 Olympics. Now he looks more like Merle from The Walking Dead.
Philadelphia, once right in the race for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, has lost seven games in a row, with its last win over a playoff-caliber team coming on January 26th when it beat the New York Knicks.
The Sixers' last foray above .500 was on December 14th when they were 12-11. Since then, they've gone 10-23.
A knee-jerk reaction would be to blame Collins. There has to be someone to blame, and their collapse this year is eerily similar to the collapse they had a season ago.
At the start of the 2012 season, the 76ers were 20-9 through the first month-and-a-half of the season and had an offense that was near the top of the league and a stiff, brick wall of a defense.
The defense started to bend as the season went along, while the offense completely fell apart. Philly squeezed into the eighth seed after going just 15-22 down the stretch.
Derrick Rose's torn ACL allowed them to squeeze past the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, and a similarly run team in the Boston Celtics allowed the second-round series to stretch all the way to seven games before the Celtics prevailed.
It looked like a solid season, but it was really quite the disappointment after seeing what the 76ers could do through the first third of the season.
Summer saw the departure of Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Elton Brand, and in came Andrew Bynum to give the team a completely different vibe.
Injuries here and there knocked them down a peg, while Bynum's absence and the overreliance on offensive creation from Jrue Holiday ultimately spelled their downfall.
It would be easy to look at the lack of offensive production in the post and keep the finger pointed in that direction, but Bynum's been out all season long, while the Sixers being a terrible basketball team is a very recent development.
After a recent loss to the Orlando Magic, Collins sort of lost it, blaming his players left and right for the complete collapse.
Philadelphia's losing streak has been a total team effort, from the head coach all the way down to Kwame Brown.
While Collins is correct that the Sixers haven't put themselves completely into games lately, part of that has to fall on him and his game plan.
Philadelphia has the talent to make the Eastern Conference playoffs, but the style it plays will create a ton of up-and-down games.
The 76ers have taken just under 4,700 shots this season, 1,137 of which have been mid-range jumpers (between 15 to 19 feet), of which they make just 38.5 percent.
Compare that to the Milwaukee Bucks, a notorious jump-shooting team. Of their 4,900 shots, the Bucks have shot just 871 times from 15 to 19 feet. They're shooting a similar percentage (38.7), but the fact that fewer of their shots are from such a low percentage area gives them more shots from higher-percentage areas.
In part, Collins has the right to blame the players if they aren't making shots. But they have the right to turn around and blame him for the offense they run that leads to so many mid-range jump shots.
So, yes, it seems that the Philadelphia 76ers are trying to drive Collins crazy. The only problem is that most of his newly found mental bellyache can be turned right back around in his direction.
To be fair, even in Collins' system, Philly's offense would likely be improved by leaps and bounds with a player who could rebound and score in the post as well as Bynum. The only problem is that there has been no adjustment by Collins to make up for the fact that it's Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes playing center, not Bynum.
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