Sixers need to solve free throw woes

Sixers need to solve free throw woes
January 27, 2013, 11:15 am
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The court at the Wells Fargo Center is painted the same way as all the other floors in the NBA. That’s a mistake. There really only needs to be a single free throw line -- for the opposing team. The Sixers can generally get by without one.

The Sixers don’t shoot free throws. Or at least they don’t shoot many free throws. They certainly don’t shoot free throws at a rate Doug Collins or anyone else affiliated with the team would like.

“We’re averaging around the same amount of points we did last year,” Collins said. “We’re shooting right around the same. Right around the same [from] three. If we made five or six more free throws per game, which I thought we would do, we would be averaging 98 or so points per game. In this league, if you don’t shoot free throws, it’s tough to score. That’s been a huge downfall.”

Indeed.

While the Sixers went 15-for-22 from the line in a 97-80 win against the Knicks on Saturday, they’ve had serious trouble attempting and making free throws this season.

The Sixers are last in free throws made per game. They are second-to-last in free throws attempted. They are 25th in free throw percentage.

So why have they struggled to get to the line?

“We’re not a team that likes contact. Simple,” Collins said. “You can put it up on that tape all you want, but when you get guys in position to foul you, you have to make them foul you. Carmelo [Anthony] is going to seek out every live body in the building [Saturday].”
 
Collins was right. Anthony went 7-for-8 from the free throw line against the Sixers. That would represent nearly a month’s worth of production from some of Collins’ crew. Seriously.

Lavoy Allen was 1-for-2 from the line against the Knicks. It was the first time in two weeks that he attempted a free throw. Before the New York game, Allen hadn’t been to the line since going 1-for-2 against the Rockets on Jan. 12. Prior to that, he shot and missed one free throw against the Raptors on Jan. 9. That’s been it for him this month.

Jason Richardson, who has missed three straight games with a knee injury, hasn’t been on the free throw line since going 1-for-2 at the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 5. He went 0-for-2 against the Lakers in Los Angeles on New Year’s Day. That’s been it for him this month.

Spencer Hawes went 0-for-2 from the line against the Knicks. The last time he shot more than two free throws in a game was Jan. 1 at the Lakers. He went 3-for-4.

Nick Young made 7-of-8 from the line against the Knicks. It was by far his most attempts and makes since he took eight -- and made six -- at Oklahoma City on Jan. 4. Young has made and taken fewer than three free throws in nine out of 12 games this month.

See a pattern developing here? Then you also see the problem.

The Sixers weren’t great at free throws last year, either. They hit 13.5 per game a season ago, last in the NBA. They’re still last, but they’re even worse this year (12.4 free throws made per game).

Going into Saturday’s game against New York, Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with an average of 3.5 free throws attempted and 2.7 made. Thaddeus Young had an average of 2.7 and 1.5. Evan Turner was at 2.6 and 2.0. Everyone else was below two in both categories.

At this point, if some of them got fouled, they might need a GPS to find the line.

“That’s something that’s been an issue for us all year,” Hawes admitted. “It’s hard to beat the good teams in this league when there’s that discrepancy from the line and you have to make that many more field goals. I think it takes a lot of pressure off us when you get those easy one.”