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5 Ways the Sixers Can Rebound After the All-Star Break

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2012

5 Ways the Sixers Can Rebound After the All-Star Break

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    After managing a 15-6 record through the first two months of the season, the Sixers were brought back to earth in the month of February.

    Right now the Sixers are 5-8 in February after losing five straight games before the All-Star break.

    In February, the Sixers averaged a meager 88.5 points per game compared to their yearly average of 94. They've struggled to find consistent scoring, most notably from their starters.

    Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand have struggled to score at a consistent pace, and Brand's inability to find a rhythm has been particularly troublesome.

    Just one year ago Brand was moving swiftly along, averaging a solid 15 points per game, becoming what looked like the Sixers veteran presence and most consistent scorer. Now, Brand is struggling to score in double figures, perhaps due in part to the frantic pace of this shortened season.

    Another troubling statistic is that the team's leading scorer, Lou Williams, is shooting below 40 percent. Williams seems to have recognized that he carries the offensive load, and with that weight on his shoulders, he feels the need to throw up more shots than usual.

    In February, Williams is averaging 14 field goal attempts per game compared to his usual 12. While he's easily the team's most skilled offensive player, this team is built around the concept of team basketball, not individual scoring.

Get Spencer Hawes Back to 100 Percent

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    According to the Liberty Ballers blog, the Sixers are 12-2 with Hawes in the lineup this season, and 8-12 without him.

    Hawes exploded out of the gates to begin the season, looking like an immediate candidate for the league's most improved player. Hawes was averaging close to a double-double (10 points and eight rebounds per game), and more importantly he became the player that this versatile offense ran though.

    One of the league's more skilled center's, Hawes is a very capable passer who also possesses a competent jump shot. His ability to stretch defenses opened up more of the floor for guys like Jodie Meeks and Jrue Holiday, and his presence has been sorely missed. 

    While his Achilles injury is more serious than originally believed, the hope is that he will be back by the middle of March. Let's hope he's back soon.

Find Consistency from Elton Brand

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    I mentioned it earlier, but it's very true. Elton Brand is the X-factor on this young Sixers team.

    Considered by many to be the veteran leader of the ball club, Brand has been on and off the court for most of February due to a nagging thumb injury.

    For his career Brand averages about 36 minutes per game. This season, he's managed to play only 27 a night.

    The compressed schedule has left the Sixers with very few days to rest, and the loss of this valuable time off has left Brand on the bench far more than he needs to be.

    While the hope is to have Brand at full strength come playoff time, the Sixers are going to need as much of Brand as they can get in order to lock up a top four seed in the Eastern Conference. Lavoy Allen has been a surprisingly competent replacement thus far, but I'm sure Doug Collins has more trust in his veteran big man.

Get Evan Turner More Minutes

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    What makes this Sixers team so great is their supreme depth. Between Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Evan Turner and a host of other young players, the Sixers boast one of the NBA's best benches.

    While Turner has been a disappointment since entering the league in 2010, he's shown flashes of brilliance.

    Watching the BBVA Rising Stars game on Friday night, it's clear that Turner plays his best when his confidence is high and there are no limits on his game.

    When Turner gets confident he starts knocking down mid-range jumpers, he's aggressive on the boards, and he's a willing passer. Perhaps his biggest flaw is that he tends to dribble too much, but he's a player who is at his best when the ball is in his hands. After all, he did bring the ball up for the Buckeyes and score at an elite rate.

    Turner's talent is undeniable, and if it means giving guys like Jodie Meeks fewer minutes to get him involved, then it may be worth it.

Have Jrue Holiday Find His Shot

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    After an impressive showing in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, Holiday has seen his production drop off a bit this season.

    In my opinion, Holiday's lack of production is due in part to extremely limited practice time which is hindering some of his development as a true point guard.

    Holiday is the Sixers' second leading scorer thus far, dropping 13.6 points in 34 minutes per night. Holiday is actually averaging a team-high in attempted field goals per game, hoisting up 13 shots a game.

    Settling more for jump shots this year, Holiday needs to begin asserting himself like he did last year, driving the lane and finishing around the rim. What makes Holiday so effective is that he is able to use the basket to shield defenders, scoring with both hands in a myriad of acrobatic ways.

    Holiday has all of the tools necessary to be one of the league's top point guards, but he just needs a confidence boost.

Take Advantage of an Easy April Schedule

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    While the last few weeks have had the Sixers slugging it out with the league's elite, their slate of games in April is very favorable.

    The Sixers will see a few quality teams like Miami, Orlando, Boston and Indiana, but for the most part they will be going up against bottom feeders.

    In total they'll face both the Raptors and Nets twice, and they will clash with the likes of Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee to round out their regular season.

    The Sixers will close the season on a five-game road trip, but the degree of difficulty shouldn't be anything that Doug Collins' group can't handle.

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