Sixers discuss their lack of maturity after latest loss to Knicks

NEW YORK–When the Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated by the Miami Heat in Round 2 of the 2022 playoffs, the buzzwords after the elimination were “mental toughness”. It was something that was pointed out by the players after the Heat went into Philadelphia and eliminated the Sixers.

In order to win in the NBA, teams have to be able to withstand adversity and be able to battle through nights when things aren’t going their way in order to win games. While the words “mental toughhe Sixers acknowledge that they still have some work to do after blowing a 21-point lead in a loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday.

This is the second time in less than a week that the Sixers blew a 21-point lead and lost. They fell to the Orlando Magic in a similar fashion on Jan. 30.

“I think, for one, it’s kind of like human nature sometimes to just think that you can coast at times when you have a lead a little bit, but for us as a group, we can’t think that way,” said Tobias Harris. “I think we have a mature group, but it’s basketball maturity as well of understanding we’re up 20, we should win by 35. We should dominate.”

The bench unit struggled in Sunday’s win as coach Doc Rivers believed that the group thought it would be easy for them to enter the game and repeat the same success the starting unit had. That turned out not to be the case and there needs to be a toughness and understanding that they need to be better in that area.

“It happens,” said Rivers. “They’re watching the first group score every time. We were getting layups, wide-open shots, and I think they came in and thought that’s the way they were gonna play. You can tell when your group comes in and thinks offense and I thought that’s what we did. So you lose the game when that happens and they know that. I just told them emotionally and mentally, that’s our next step as a team.”

The Sixers made moves in the offseason, such as bringing in PJ Tucker, to help in this situation. He offered up his own take on mental toughness.

“I don’t know if it’s a certain thing you can do to actually—like if that was the case, everybody would do it,” said Tucker. “It’s just you got it you don’t. Working on it is working on yourself. At times where you’re not getting shots and you’re not, scoring and doing stuff for the stat sheets, it’s taking some guys off the glass, or offensive rebounds or taking them off. ‘I’m not gonna get the board, but he’s not’. That type of thing. It’s the most selfless thing ever. Which is selfish and selfless at the same time, but it’s for the team and it’s got to be more than that.”

A game like Sunday’s is one the Sixers will see in the playoff in terms of adversity and having to handle how teams will bombard them with runs. They will have to learn from this going forward.

“Those are big-time games, meaningful games, and those are things that we need as a group because we know we’re going to face that type of adversity come playoffs and true, real basketball,” Harris added. “So learning lesson for us, but that doesn’t happen overnight, and we know we have a long way to go for that.”

For the Sixers, they need to hold each other accountable which is also something that was focused on after the loss to the Heat.

“We can get there and we’re gonna get there and it’s gonna take some time and it’s just going to take us really understanding how great we can be as a collective team and trusting one another and just picking each other up, night after night,” Harris finished. “We got to hold each other accountable as a whole collective group and we’ll be fine.”

With that being said, the Sixers have still won 22 of their last 28. They have been playing excellent basketball. They just have to figure out this toughness factor.

“We’re doing most things right, but the next step to be a real winner is that growth, and when things aren’t going well or someone is not getting shots or—you just keep hanging in there and pulling for each other, and you figure it out,” Rivers added. “That’s our next step as a group. We’ll make that step I can almost guarantee you we’ll make that step, but we’re just not there yet.”


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Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire