In case you haven’t noticed, Spencer Hawes has been playing a much larger role on offense for the 76ers.  His averages over the last five games go a little something like this: 13 points, 7 boards, 1.5 blocks and a 49.2 field goal percentage in 30.2 minutes.  For comparisons sake you should know that Hawes season average for court time in 2010-2011 has hovered around 20 minutes. 

Those statistics are actually quite striking when you think of how unsettling some other franchises center situations are — Miami, New York, Charlotte, Detroit etc.  The only NBA teams that are able to mask their problem at the 5-spot are teams with multiple superstars.

Hawes is shooting a career high 48.4% from the floor after going through some brutal cold stretches through January — no pun intended.  There were times earlier this season where I was clamoring about Hawes as a ‘problem’.  However, if this type of play continues, the Hawes problem could be a hidden reason for a second round playoff matchup.

I want to make light of that field goal percentage, because an extreme amount of these shot attempts have been outside of 15 feet.  Teams are daring Hawes to shoot the ball from the outside and as of late they have paid the consequences.  No seriously.  Hawes is wide open nearly every time he shoots.  And I don’t get it.  Atlanta, Chicago and Houston found out the hard way that they probably should’ve respected Hawes’s outside game a little bit more.   

Let’s break down where Spencer has been scoring in the last five games and how many minutes he’s getting in crunch time.

3/23 – Hawks Game

10 Points on 5-of-12 shooting – 15-footer, 8-footer, 7-footer, 6-footer and a layup.  

Hawes didn’t play after the 6:22 mark in the fourth.  Collins decided to go small with Thad and Brand due to Horford’s inefficient night.

3/25 – Heat Game

13 points on 6-of-13 shooting — 21-footer, 8-footer, Two Layups, Free Throw and a Dunk.

Hawes checked in for just 30 seconds of the fourth halfway through. His third quarter was incredible though featuring nine points mostly on defensive specialist Joel Anthony.

 3/27 – Kings Game

16 points on 6-of-11 shooting — Two 15-footers, 10-footer, 9-footer, Three Free Throws, Two Layups.

He played every minute after the 7:30 mark (including overtime) and although he didn’t score he had three assists in the last four minutes that led to wide open jump shots.

3/28 – Bulls Game

14 points on 7-for-13 shooting — Four 20-footers, 19-footer, 17-footer and a Dunk.

Hawes was the X-factor in the first and fourth quarter for the Sixers, contributing to the potent start and then sealing the deal with his shooting in the fourth.   

3/30 – Rockets Game

12 points on 6-of-12 shooting — Two 18-footers, 15-footer, 13-footer, 10-footer, 6-footer

There was no late close game situation but Hawes remained in the fourth quarter from the 7:30 minute mark on.

To beat the Philadelphia 76ers you have to do the little things right.  This is a team who makes minimal mistakes while it prays on their opponents downfalls.  As the season has drug on, more and more teams have been getting burned by Hawes’s jumper.  The Sixers are 14-5 when Hawes scores 10 points or more.  He rarely is going to outduel a big man around the basket, but it’s getting hard to ignore how reliable his jumper is becoming.  After some research, I’ve found that Hawes has hit 16 shots the last five games of 10 feet or more.  That’s 3.2 outside jumpers a game from your center, not too shabby.  The average length of those made shots has been 16.6 feet.

It seems like Hawes must be 25 or 26, but the kid is actually just 22-years-old.  That coupled with Tony Battie’s more reliable defense could be a reason we see the veteran over Hawes in the postseason. Still, I wouldn’t pencil that in just yet.  Hawes and his clutch shot fried the Bulls Monday night late in the game and almost seemed to dampen the spirits the Chicago players.  It’s like they couldn’t believe Spencer Hawes was beating them.

So right now, I’m all for Collins’ approach of giving Hawes the green light in most situations.

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