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76ers Can’t Even Pull Out Thriller with Bucks: A Fan’s Recap
The Philadelphia 76ers have obviously had problems beating the NBA elite lately. The Sixers' recent come-from-ahead losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls have clearly exposed this more than ever. But Sixers fans like myself can usually count on victories over sub. 500 teams to lift Philadelphia up in the meantime.
That wasn't the case on Mar. 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks, as the Sixers couldn't even pull out a close game against a now 15-23 club. Just as the Thunder and Bulls did, the Bucks came back from an early deficit and then held on in the final minutes for a 97-93 victory.
Philadelphia jumped out to 33 points in the first quarter, which balanced out an early 19 point explosion from Brandon Jennings. But the Sixers scored no more than 22 points in any other quarter, including just 16 in the third - which used to be their special quarter. Yet in this case, Milwaukee ended the third on a 15-4 run that erased an eight-point deficit and put it ahead for good.
Once again, it was the Sixers that had to make a fourth-quarter rally, which they almost did thanks to Lou Williams. Although he racked up 26 points and helped tie the score late, neither Williams nor any other Philadelphia player got the big points when it really counted - again. For the third time in four games, the Sixers lost chances to win or tie in the final minute - which is more inexcusable against the Bucks than it is against the Thunder and Bulls.
Now Philadelphia is just 2-8 in games that are decided by five points or less. These kinds of battles used to be fairly rare, yet that was when the Sixers regularly won by 10 or more points. Those were days when the Sixers won more altogether, but they seem so far away now. Back then, they didn't shoot 37 percent for a whole night either, or just 13-for-49 in the second half.
Even during the five-game losing streak before the All-Star break, Philadelphia at least lost to teams fighting for the playoffs. When the Sixers start losing regularly to poorer clubs, or don't beat them as frequently, then that is a sign of real trouble. Unfortunately, they have been losing so regularly to winning teams that trouble is already here - and losing to a squad like the Bucks is just rubbing it in even further.
Only the Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats have had an equal or worse record than the Sixers in the last 10 games - and they are both in last place. Yet despite a 2-8 slide, Philadelphia remains in first in the Atlantic, although that could be days away from ending at this point.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
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