The Philadelphia 76ers are 25-15 through 40 games in a long NBA season. That's a solid start for any team, but the Sixers weren't built to be just solid. They were built to be a championship contender. That still is the case, but there are some shortcomings the team is dealing with as the season continues.
One of those big issues is the Sixers' struggles on the road. The team has lost five in a row on the road and is 7-13 away from the Wells Fargo Center, compared to 18-2 at home. There are some key numbers that explain why Philadelphia struggles so much on the road, and they are numbers that must be reversed in order for the Sixers to be true title contenders.
The Sixers are built to win games defensively. That's why they brought in Al Horford and Josh Richardson in the offseason to join defensive stalwarts Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. For the most part, it has worked. The Sixers are seventh in the league overall in defensive rating at 105.8, but on the road, they struggle to figure it out.
Ben Simmons and the Sixers are one of the best home teams in the league. (Photo: Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia gives up 109.8 points per game on the road compared to only 101.9 points at home. They also allow opponents to shoot 37.6% from deep on the road compared to just 33.9% at home. They also average 2.6 fewer rebounds on the road. It's normal for teams to play better at home, but the Sixers turn into a below-average defensive team on the road.
This Sixers team will never be confused with the sharpshooting Golden State Warriors, but for the season they have shot 35.9% from deep, which is good for 13th in the league. On the road, Philadelphia shoots 34.4% from deep compared to 37.6% at home. Considering the league average is 35.4% from 3-point range, they once again are putting up below-average numbers in a road situation.
It can't be measured by the numbers, but the Sixers have not been nearly as tough on the road compared to at home. One example was the loss to the Miami Heat on Dec. 28 when the Sixers had the game in hand but committed a comedy of errors that cost them the win in overtime.
That was followed by the New Year's Eve debacle in Indiana against the Pacers, when the Sixers were outscored 38-16 in the second quarter and had no response. Then there was Saturday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks where the Sixers were outscored 68-41 in the second half. The Sixers need to find the mental fortitude to battle through tough times like they do at home where they have proven they can bounce back and respond.
Through Sunday's games, Philadelphia is the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, meaning they would not have home-court advantage in the playoffs. Obviously a lot can change over the final half of the season, and the Sixers can move into the top four in the East, but they will eventually have to fix the road issues. What will happen in the playoffs when they have to win a critical road game to save their season? The evidence right now says the Sixers won't be able to get it done.
Sixers Wire is part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.
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