MILWAUKEE – The 76ers will be back home Monday night, probably playing with swagger against the Atlanta Hawks.
A win could move them closer to their goal of getting home-court advantage at least through the first round of the playoffs. Afterward, the national media and some on sports talk radio will rave about the squad’s length, athleticism, and dominating post player in Joel Embiid. They’ll mention that the Sixers will be 27-2 at home.
But what does it really mean, especially when the same squad continually struggles on the road?
Saturday’s 119-98 setback to the Milwaukee Bucks marked their sixth consecutive road loss. They have lost 12 of their last 14 road games to fall to 9-20 outside of the Wells Fargo Center.
“The real challenge is we have to fix this,” Brown said. “As I told the team, it’s a house built on sand otherwise. We need to be able to fix our road problems.”
Two of the Sixers’ biggest home-and-road disparities are scoring defense and three-point shooter.
Heading into Sunday’s games, the Sixers (35-22) had the league’s second-best scoring defense overall, surrendering 106.4 points a game. They give up the NBA’s fewest points at home, but they rank 11th in scoring defense on the road.
Opponents are shooting 43.9% against the Sixers in Philly (seventh in league as of Saturday) compared to 47.1% (17th) on the road.
Meanwhile, the Sixers are shooting 35.2% on three-pointers overall, ranking 18th in the league as of Saturday. Their 37% shooting at home ranked 11th in the NBA. However, their 33.6% on the road was 26th.
So why the shooting disparity?
“I think your question about why don’t we shoot threes better on the road is one of those, it’s missed, I don’t know stuff," Brown said. “Like I don’t know. And I think the real challenge is we have to fix this. We have to fix our road woes.”
Brown doesn’t think three-point shooting is the cause of the disparity.
“My opinion is I go straight to defense,” he said. “You ask me a question about why don’t you shoot better. I don’t know. But it all needs to come together.”
One could argue that the Sixers’ bad habits area just more exposed on the road.
That’s because there are times offensively when the Sixers seldom make screens, picks, and cuts to the basket. Their spacing is also subpar. Meanwhile, defensively, they get caught trailing opponents behind screens and have bad switches.
Yet, the energy they receive from their fans enables them to overcome that at home. Plus, role players often play better at home as opposed to the road.
The Sixers are just 1-14 on the road against teams with winning records.
But based on their remaining schedule, Philly’s road record should improve.
The Sixers play at struggling Cleveland on Wednesday and host the New York Knicks on Thursday. Then their next two road games are against the Los Angeles Clippers (Sunday) and Lakers (March 3). After that, none of their remaining nine road opponents have a winning record.