Sixers looking for better finishes with Wizards next

Rudy Gay (#22) of the San Antonio Spurs is defended by Al Horford (#42) of the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on Aug. 3, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

The fourth quarter is when games are won and lost.

And with that sterling analysis out of the way, let’s continue to point out the obvious in bringing up the Philadelphia 76ers’ struggles in the final 12 minutes since play restarted in the NBA’s Orlando bubble.

Philadelphia has a major problem on its hands when it comes to closing out ballgames.

After giving up 46 points in the fourth to the Indiana Pacers in a 127-121 loss — featuring a shocking 53-point effort from TJ Warren — in their debut match on Saturday, the Sixers allowed an additional 43 in the final frame on Monday against the San Antonio Spurs.

This time, they were bailed out by a Shake Milton three-pointer with 6.1 seconds remaining to pull out a 132-130 win, but the feelings aren’t necessarily rosy in the Philly locker room.

“I think it stinks,” head coach Brett Brown said of his team’s fourth-quarter efforts. “I think it’s not anything that we believe in or talk about. We were very lucky to win… In two closeout periods, against Indiana, it was 46, tonight it was 43… that’s not going to get anything of any importance done.”

Philadelphia’s defense has been sieve-like down the stretch, which will do nothing for them over the final six regular-season games in the NBA bubble and into the postseason.

Only four of the NBA’s 22 bubble teams have allowed more points than the 76ers, who are yielding an average of 128.5 per night since the return.

While teammates squabble on the sidelines and the team continues to not meet its full potential as a threat in the Eastern Conference, Brown believes it’s all mental.

“It is well within our reach, immediately, to flip the switch. We have to have an immediate paradigm switch and an admittance we can’t afford to pick and choose,” he said. “The past two games, we have done that. I give credit to Indiana and to the Spurs … but in general, it ain’t going to get it done. It’s not who we are, and it needs to be fixed, and fixed it will be.”

The Sixers have a chance to right the ship against a Washington Wizards side (Wednesday, 4 p.m. ET) that is already eliminated from postseason contention already. The Eastern Conference’s No. 9 seed dropped its opening two games to the Brooklyn Nets and Pacers where they were 7.5 games behind the last playoff spot with six games to play.

They’ve had problems generating offense without their star guard, Bradley Beal — who opted not to play in the restart — as the Wizards are averaging just 105 points per game over their first two in Orlando.

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