Philadelphia 76ers: Who's to Blame for the Sixers' Collapse?

Tim NguyenCorrespondent IApril 15, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 10:  Elton Brand #42 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the New Jersey Nets at Prudential Center on April 10, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
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The 2011-12 Philadelphia 76ers currently stand at 31-28, three games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

This, when only about two weeks ago they had a multiple-game edge over the Boston Celtics for the Atlantic Division lead.

Since that time, a few ugly losses to the Magic, Raptors, Heat and Nets pushed the Sixers down the standings, but there are still a handful of games left in the season for the Sixers to turn things around.

They started the season hot—going 20-9—and had people talking about them possibly being NBA finals contenders. They surprised nearly everyone since no one had picked them to play this well. They were the story of the NBA before Linsanity took over.

Since that time, they have gone 11-19.

When things started getting really bad for the Sixers, it was the players tuning out Doug Collins, the rotation not being right and questionable effort at the end of games. Those were the "problems" that had plagued the team and the reason why they were losing.

When things were going good and they were winning, there was talk about how great the team played together, with a team-first mentality in a league driven by stars, and how they resembled a great college team. They were praised for their top-of-the-league defense and quick, athletic play.

In reality, as a longtime Sixers fan, its really been a mixture of both this season as shown in the win-loss column.

They have been playing too inconsistently this past month, and no one reason can really be pointed out as the culprit.

However I do see them turning things around because the talent is there on the court and they just need to close out games strong. It would be one thing to lose by a blowout and it is another to lose a close game at the end. Many of the Sixers' losses have been close games, so there is a positive to take out of them.

Despite having to finish their season mostly on the road, it is not impossible to win out because they have won on the road this season and their record away from home isn't terrible.

They have also contended well against some of the top teams in the NBA, except for the Miami Heat, against whom they have lost 11 straight regular-season games. They have beaten the Bulls and Lakers and came close against Oklahoma City.

As a Sixers fan, I can tell the Sixers have what it takes to win out and enter the playoffs with a big momentum boost. They just need to regroup, focus and play their game.

They should be alright.