Like most NBA teams, the Philadelphia 76ers have to face critical losses sometimes in their playoff run. In the first-round series against the Toronto Raptors, the Sixers missed their defensive ace Matisse Thybulle for three games because of his vaccination status.
Then when the second-round series against the Miami Heat took place, Philadelphia lost MVP runner-up Joel Embiid in the first two games to an orbital fracture and concussion. And when Game 6 rolled into the second round, veteran forward Danny Green suffered a knee injury within the first three minutes.
It’s impossible to say whether the Sixers are good or not if they haven’t lost key players throughout the run, but the 76ers ’postseason has struggled to run deeper than none. In the eyes of Tobias Harris, his team lacks the mental toughness when it comes to what matters most.
“It’s mental toughness,” Harris said of the team’s shortcomings. “I think that’s part of it. I think we haven’t. Watching the game in Milwaukee [on Wednesday], that’s a team that has gone through fire that can fight and just keep going. I think, sometimes, for our group, a lot of things affect us in general. We bowed our heads a lot, and our body language was sometimes bad.
In Games 5 and 6 against the Heat, the Sixers seemed like a team lacking urgency and enthusiasm. Even though they knew they had to steal a win in Game 5, the Sixers lost from the start and they collected a 35-point loss.
With their backs leaning against the wall in Game 6, the Sixers would have looked more enthusiastic than ever to take a win in front of their home. It looks like a team the Heat are battling for their season. And because of that, the Heat got a nine -point win to end the Sixers season.
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“We need [mental toughness] to be better throughout this series, and I think that hurt us, ”Harris said. “Our mental strength definitely hurt us against that group. They did a lot to challenge that. The hustle play, the 50-50 basketballs, everything. They’re physical too. We have to be better as one collective group holding our head and just fighting and coming back to it right away, so I don’t think we’ve done a good job of that.
How did the Sixers fix their mental stability issues? 76ers veteran and three -time NBA champion Danny Green believes it can be resolved with maturity, which is another critical thing the Sixers seem to be lacking in their playoff run.
“I really think that if we were an adult team, we wouldn’t have to go to six games in Toronto,” Green said Friday. “Obviously, the injuries hurt a lot too. Joel lost the first two games sick. In that game, I wasn’t there to definitely hurt, but I think when we get more focused and more mature, there shouldn’t be these lapses or wake up call games where we’re embarrassed to go in and do our jobs or be more locked into a playoff series. ”
There is a lot to learn from the Sixers members who play next season. And front-office decision makers are more likely to prioritize bringing prospects that will help improve Philadelphia’s maturity and mental strength for next year.
Justin Grasso covered the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.
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