Philadelphia 76ers and 3 Reasons Why They Continue to Slump

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2012

Philadelphia 76ers and 3 Reasons Why They Continue to Slump

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    It's no secret that the Sixers are slumping at the wrong time.

    Since the All-Star break, the 76ers are just 7-8, and they currently hold a slim half-game lead over the Boston Celtics for first place in the Atlantic Division.

    If the Sixers continue to slide down the standings, they could find themselves occupying the seventh or eighth seed come playoff time, a position that would be almost impossible to overcome.

    For this season to truly be deemed a success, the Sixers must win the Atlantic Division and win a first-round playoff series.

    If they fail to do so this team will be in limbo.

    One year ago, the 76ers surprised many around the league when they played the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs. While signs were encouraging then, things are starting to look bleak.

    The Sixers have failed to produce lately, and to win the division they will have to reverse some of these disturbing trends.

Lack of Interior Scoring

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    While this may seem like more of a recent trend, it has been a year-long problem for this 76ers squad. According to teamrankings.com, the Sixers rank 20th in the NBA in points scored per game in the paint.

    Unfortunately, this doesn't seem like a problem that can be fixed easily. The Sixers have lacked serious interior depth all season long, as they possess a fairly weak front line that consists of Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand.

    Neither Hawes nor Brand make a living by banging bodies in the post, and they are increasingly more reliant on their jump shots as they continue to recover from various injuries.

    Rookie center Nikola Vucevic hasn't been the solution down low either, as he has looked timid in the post against more physically imposing big men, and unfortunately Vucevic is a big man who relies on his outside shooting to get the job done.

Poor Free-Throw Shooting

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    Not only do the Sixers shoot poorly from the free-throw line (73.3 percent), but they fail to get there too.

    The Sixers have attempted only 878 freebies this season, a number that pales in comparison to the 1,029 their opponents have attempted. This points to two problems.

    For one, the Sixers aren't aggressive enough trying to get to the charity stripe. Secondly, as many attentive Sixer fans would tell you, the Sixers have struggled to get calls from referees this season. Whether it has been their softer team personality or lack of superstars, refs have not been quick to blow the whistle in the Sixers favor this season.

    The Sixers possess just three regular players (Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday) who shoot over 80 percent from the line.

    For a professional team, that is unacceptable.

    Andre Iguodala, the team's "star" player, shoots just 61.8 percent from the line for the season. If that's not a telling stat, I don't know what is.

Poor 3-Point Shooting

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    As it currently stands, the 76ers make just 5.4 three-point field goals per game. That's good for 22nd in the NBA.

    While the Sixers maintain a decent 36.6 percent average from beyond the arc, they must find a consistent long-range shooting presence if they wish to advance deep into the postseason.

    Lou Williams has all of the range in the world, but lately, he hasn't been able to find his stroke from deep.

    Jodie Meeks is known as the team's three-point specialist, but he has been relegated to diminished minutes off of the bench.

    The silver lining? The Sixers have held their opponents to just 31 percent from beyond the arc this season.