Why does the Sixers stink so much on the road?
The Philadelphia 76ers are hardly the only team that has struggled to win games on the road. Yet, the disparity between the Sixers’ home and away records is astounding.
At 22-2, the Sixers have the best home winning percentage of any team in the NBA. However, Philly is just sixth in the Eastern Conference due to a 9-17 record on the road. Perhaps more consequently, frustration is beginning to settle in among the players.
Tobias Harris iterated that they have been frustrated for some time now after suffering a blowout loss at the hands of the Boston Celtics on Saturday.
Tobias Harris, on when he started being concerned about where Philadelphia sits in the standings (Sixers are in sixth): “About 10 games ago.”
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) February 2, 2020
But why have the Sixers been a totally different team at the Wells Fargo Center than they have been at any other stadium in the league?
Time to take a closer look at Philly’s road woes.
Starts with defense
Much has been made about the Sixers’ inability to score the basketball. They rank 23rd in points per game and 20th in terms of offensive rating, according to Basketball Reference.
Indeed, Brett Brown’s squad seems to have trouble putting the ball in the basket on the road. However, they are also a vastly worse defensive team. Philadelphia is allowing over 109 points per game away from home, compared to just over 101 points at Wells Fargo Center.
Of course, it might be easier to get defensive stops at home, especially when you factor in things such as crowd noise late in the game and in clutch situations. Home crowds tend to give players energy, which therefore can easily translate into greater effort on the defensive side of the floor.
Then again, considering the elite-level talent the Sixers have on defense — guys like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are among the best defenders at their respective positions — why is there so much inconsistency?
Strength of schedule?
The most confusing element of Philly’s road struggles is the fact they have not faced overly stingy competition.
Some losses are more understandable. It is tough for the Sixers to beat teams like the Celtics or Toronto Raptors — both sound defensive teams — regardless of where the game is played.
But the Sixers have some downright ugly losses. They have suffered road defeats at the hands of the Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic (twice), Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks.
Sure, the Wizards boast a high-powered offense, but the Sixers gave up an average of 105 points against the Magic (who rank 27th in offensive rating) while also giving up points in bunches to the Nets and Hawks.
The Sixers are winless against the Raptors and Indiana Pacers on the road, which really does not bode well seeing as they very well could face one of those two teams in the playoffs.
In short, the Sixers seem to be unusually susceptible to letdowns on the road. Philadelphia cannot afford this trend to continue with the playoffs looming on the horizon.
Unfortunately, they face the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks (twice) and both Los Angeles teams in five of their next six road games. In the same vein, they have an opportunity to gather some momentum with a few quality wins.