76ers Continue Free Fall in Playoff Race

Philadelphia went from trying to clinch home court advantage in the opening round to fighting for a spot in the post season.

After sitting atop the Atlantic Division for most of the season, the 76ers lost for the ninth time in their last 13 games with an 88-82 loss to the Magic. 

Orlando snapped a five game losing streak of its own, overcoming its off court fiasco behind a 20 point, 22 rebound performance from Dwight Howard, the ninth time this season he logged 20 points and 20 rebounds.

Facing turmoil of its own, after Andre Iguodala called out teammate Lou Williams for his inability to play defense, Philadelphia held the Magic to 36.3 percent shooting from the field, but couldn’t put the game away.

The 76ers failed to capitalize during a horrific second quarter shooting performance from Orlando, as it missed 18-of-21 attempts at one point, scoring just 13 points in the period.

Despite a 24-4 run, Philadelphia was unable to build more than a 10 point lead as the Magic couldn’t put the ball through the net.

As the first half was coming to an end, Iguodala was isolated at the top of the key and was defended by Howard on a switch. As he started to rise up for a jumper, Howard slapped the ball away but fell to the ground, cringing as he reaggrevated  his back injury.

The buzzer sounded and the momentum swung towards Orlando.

Andre Iguodala dished out a game-high 10 assists Saturday night.

During the third quarter, the Magic outscored Philadelphia 25-16 as Glen Davis and Jameer Nelson carried the scoring burden, allowing Howard to dominate in the fourth.

Over the final 12 minutes, Howard scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Philadelphia couldn’t find a consistent scoring threat.

The starting lineup for the 76ers scored just 31 points, shooting 13-of-44 from the field and no starter scored more than seven points.

Following a seven point fourth quarter against Toronto, the 76ers were booed off the court, falling by 21 at home to the lowly Raptors, Philadelphia allowed the Magic to score 12 of the first 14 points Saturday night.

Instead of booing the performance of its team last night, fans headed for the exits as J.J. Redick buried a three-pointer with 3:21 left in the game, extending Orlando’s lead to six.

Redick scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, sending the 76ers to their third straight loss.

After spending a majority of the season in third place behind the Bulls and Heat, the 76ers rank seventh in the Eastern Conference and sit just 1.5 games ahead of ninth place Milwaukee.

Lou Williams is the only player to lead his team in scoring without starting a single game this season.

The Bucks scored 62 second half points at home to put away Portland 116-94.

Since Feb. 15, Philadelphia has gone 9-17, allowed Boston to capture first place in the Atlantic Division and now hold just a one game lead over New York for the final playoff slot.

Philadelphia can cut the Celtics lead in half with a victory with a win at the TD Bank Garden.

The biggest problem the 76ers are facing is the lack of a dominant player in the lineup.

Iguodala was selected to the All-Star game for the first time in his career this season, mainly because of his defensive prowess, but ranks fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 12.1 points per game, his lowest average in seven years.

Williams is averaging 15.3 points per game and is the only reserve in the league to lead his team in scoring.

Philadelphia was able to win 20 of its first 30 games this season behind an exceptional defensive effort, allowing a league-low 88.2 points per game and its average of 10.9 turnovers per game is the lowest ratio in league history.

Doug Collins went from Coach of the Year candidate to the latest person a team is tuning out, as a result, the 76ers have topped 100 points just twice in their last 10 games.

With just 11 regular season games remaining and only four against teams with a record above .500, the 76ers have the easiest schedule compared to Milwaukee and New York.

The Bucks host Philadelphia in the second to last game of the regular season, a match-up that could determine which team advances to the post season.

In the past month, the 76ers have gone from a playoff lock to struggling for survival.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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