Sixers fall victim to 'first-game-back syndrome'

Sixers fall victim to 'first-game-back syndrome'
January 9, 2013, 6:10 am
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Despite the Sixers being away for 18 days between home games, it seemed like the team was away for several weeks during an eight-game road trip.
Before Tuesdays matchup with the Nets, I was on the floor catching up with players, coaches and front office personnel. Everyone seemed really glad to be home. Thad Young was on "Daily News Live" and said how excited he was to be back at the Wells Fargo Center after a long trip.
The most telling conversation I had was with a fan, who I warned pregame about the so-called first-game-back syndrome. After an extended road trip, NBA teams typically play poorly in their first game back at home, almost like the road trip was extended. Ive seen it happened time and time again over the years, although when we checked with the Elias Sports Bureau for the numbers this season they werent that overwhelming. Teams in the NBA are 4-7 in their first game back home after a road trip of five or more games and 3-4 off a trip of six or more games. Not Earth-shattering numbers, but still it shows that teams are not all with it when they return home.
During the blowout loss, I talked to our postgame analyst Jim Lynam, who was a head coach in the NBA for 10 years and numerous more as an NBA assistant coach. Lynam pointed out fatigue as a major factor in first-game-back syndrome. Players tend to relax when they come home and before you know it, are dealing with a serious deficit on the scoreboard.
After trailing by only one point at the half against Brooklyn, the Sixers allowed the Nets to go on an 18-2 run in the third quarter to put the game out of reach in a hurry.
The good news for the Sixers is that after they play at Toronto on Wednesday, 12 of the next 13 games are in Philadelphia.
I think the Sixers need more than home cooking, but they are at a critical stage in a season that started with so much promise.
E-mail Neil Hartman at nhartman@comcastsportsnet.com.