"The first quarter has been killing us," said guard Royal Ivey, who started in place of Jason Richardson (knee). "We're getting off to slow starts, and we can't get used to that. We've got to get out of that mentality."
Collins, who gave the Sixers off until Thursday, said the early deficits, and the team's inability to get to the free-throw line are unacceptable, and he's right.
The coach can't go out and draw contact from defenders. And he isn't on the floor lollygagging his way through yet another listless first quarter.
In the last 26 games, the Sixers have made fewer than 10 free throws eight times. Their opponents have done this just twice. Also during that stretch, the Sixers have attempted 20 or more free throws just eight times. Their opponents have attempted 20 or more 17 times.
Over the same stretch, the Sixers have led or been tied after the first quarter six times. In four of their wins (against Detroit, Atlanta, Houston, and the Los Angeles Lakers) they led after the first.
Ivey said that the Sixers are giving effort; they just aren't getting the results they are looking for.
"We've been missing some shots, and we've got to keep our turnovers down," Ivey said of the Sixers, who committed 16 against the Bucks. "The energy is there. We've just got to put it together. We've got to get on the same page and the continuity has to be there. It hasn't been there on the offensive and defensive ends for the last eight or nine games. Once we put that together, we'll be fine because we are playing hard."
Sixers guard Jrue Holiday will find out Thursday whether he has been selected as a reserve for the Eastern Conference all-star team. The Eastern and Western Conference reserves are chosen by the coaches in their conferences.