No relief in sight as Sixers limp toward break

No relief in sight as Sixers limp toward break

January 23, 2013, 5:00 pm
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Another slow start, another late comeback and yet another loss. For the Sixers this season, this has been the recipe for mediocrity.

Lather, rinse, repeat...

Perhaps if the Sixers were a hockey team, a bench-clearing brawl could inspire. Or if they were a baseball team, maybe a closed-door meeting where the manager flips over the postgame buffet would do the trick.

For the Sixers, however, there only appears to be one outside remedy and as far as that goes, Andrew Bynum says he won’t be ready to play until sometime before or after the All-Star break.

As far as implementing some new strategy or rotations, coach Doug Collins doesn’t have very much to work with. It’s one thing to build around a dominant seven-footer in the low post and it’s another completely different tactic to pile at least 36 minutes per game on three players, including the do-everything point guard.

Besides, it’s not like Collins has lost the locker room with this bunch. It’s just that there were some questionable roster moves during the offseason which brought in players that might be too far gone to get to.

Two years for Kwame Brown? Considering that Brown has been a part of seven teams in the past six years, a two-year deal is an eternity.

Then there is the one-year deal for Nick Young, who has played for eight coaches in six seasons. A one-year deal for a six-year veteran coming into his prime athletic years is not exactly a ringing endorsement. One also has to wonder which teams the Sixers out-bid to land "Swaggy P."

Meanwhile, Lavoy Allen has taken over as the starting center fresh off his new two-year deal. Allen, of course, was drafted 50th overall in 2011 and never really got off the bench until the postseason. As a starter this year he has no threat behind him to push him. Is Brown going to take the starting spot?

Worse, if Collins puts Spencer Hawes back into the starting five, what does he have left on his bench?

“I've got to have something coming off my bench. It's like rob Peter to pay Paul,” Collins said after Tuesday’s loss in Milwaukee. “Guys have got to play. Lavoy comes out and shoots the ball the first three times he touches it. How about moving the ball and go screen somebody?”

Conversely, the 2011 No. 1 draft pick, Nik Vucevic, is in Orlando where more minutes have equaled an impressive amount of production. In fact, Vucevic has notched double-doubles in nine of his last 11 games, ranks third in the NBA in rebounding and set a franchise record with 29 boards in a game on Dec. 31.

Better yet, it’s a franchise record on a team that once had Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard.

In Philadelphia, first-round draft pick Arnett Moultrie has played in one game since Dec. 19 and has not appeared in a game since Jan. 8.

So all the Sixers can do is wait for Bynum to return and then hope that he regains his form quickly. In the meantime, the Sixers have eight straight games at home and nine to go until the All-Star break.

“As I've said, guys know what they're supposed to do,” Collins told reporters after Tuesday night’s defeat in Milwaukee. “Be it Phil Jackson or whoever you want to have to coach — it doesn't matter. They've got to play. They've got to play. They've got to compete.”

And even those games won’t be easy.

Starting on Saturday night when the Sixers face the Knicks, the team plays four teams that are in first or second place and five teams that were in the playoffs last year. Against those eight teams the Sixers are 2-6 this season and have averaged 82 points per game.

For the Sixers and Collins, maybe they have to hope it gets much better after a difficult first half.