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The Philadelphia 76ers are the NBA’s biggest enigma.
At house, the Sixers are a powerhouse. Their 25-2 file speaks for itself, however that quantity nonetheless fails to encapsulate their impressiveness in their very own area. The 20-point drubbings of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, the groups with the perfect file in every convention, add slightly context. As does the 30-point rout in opposition to the Miami HEAT again in November.
Exterior the Philadelphia metropolis limits, although, the crew has appeared downright feeble. Their 9-19 street file, whereas fittingly dangerous, additionally lacks context. For that, look no additional than the 30-point beatdown dished by the identical HEAT crew, or the 20-point waxing handed to them by the Boston Celtics.
To say the Sixers have been two completely different groups is an understatement. They’ve been taking part in two completely different sports activities.
How does this vast of a niche come to be? Is it merely an effort problem, as some imagine, or is there one thing extra occurring right here? To finest reply that query, Basketball Insiders did a little analysis on all 28 of those street video games, damaged into stretches. The statistics are taken from the Cleansing the Glass recreation logs except in any other case famous.
The First Two Weeks
For the primary stretch of street video games, the Sixers had reasonable success. The began the season 3-Zero on the street with wins over the lowly Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons, after which a wild win in Portland that noticed them come again from down 21 late within the recreation.
They did lose Joel Embiid to a suspension and Ben Simmons to a shoulder harm on this stretch, so the ywent 0-Three to shut out a west coast street journey in opposition to the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets.
Every of these video games was hard-fought, nonetheless, and got here all the way down to the wire. The Sixers put themselves ready to win in opposition to good opponents.
In summation, the primary two weeks of street video games went about as you’d anticipate given the circumstances. The Sixers went 3-Three on this stretch, with 4 of these video games and all three losses coming with out one among their two finest gamers. They most likely ought to’ve misplaced in Portland, however it may be argued they need to have received in Denver. The trouble stage in these video games was not of a lot concern and there was no purpose to set off any panic sign simply but.
The Remainder of November
Document: 2-3, 5-6 general
Whereas the hassle stage might have sufficed over the primary two weeks of street contests, it didn’t proceed. The Sixers went all the way down to Orlando after a two-game homestand and had been trounced by the Magic 112-97. It’s notable that this was the second night time of a back-to-back and with out Joel Embiid but once more, however that also doesn’t excuse the low vitality stage that turns into clear on the stat sheet.
The Sixers solely tried 17 photographs on the rim and 13 free throws on this recreation. You may credit score the Magic protection for a few of that, however a crew with Ben Simmons and Al Horford taking part in ought to have the ability to carve out slightly more room inside. In addition they not often exit in transition on this recreation, one thing that ought to’ve been a precedence with a Simmons-centric lineup. This may be chalked up because the crew’s first actually worrisome street efficiency.
The Sixers then misplaced a really tight recreation on the street in additional time to the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder. This was additionally the primary recreation they misplaced on the season with the complete beginning lineup accessible. They adopted that tight loss up by caring for enterprise in opposition to the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
The subsequent street recreation got here up north in opposition to the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors, who’ve had plenty of success defending the Sixers relationship again to final season, shut them down once more and most notably held Embiid scoreless.
Not solely did the Raptors stifle Embiid, however in addition they saved the Sixers out of the paint and out of transition as a crew. The Sixers had been in a position to maintain it shut by going 15-for-38 on threes and outrebounding the Raptors by 11. The Sixers acquired plenty of criticism for this loss and rightfully so, however the Raptors’ protection additionally deserves credit score right here. This one ought to go within the outplayed by crew column, relatively than lack of effort.
The Sixers would shut out their November street schedule by eking out a six-point over the New York Knicks. Whereas the margin is regarding, a win is a win. The crew imposed their will in that one, attending to the charity stripe for 40 makes an attempt.
That introduced the crew to 5-6 on the street. A mediocre file for a crew with title aspirations, however given the context of solely two of these losses coming at full power and solely being actually blown out as soon as by the hands of Orlando, it wasn’t so dangerous.
Onward to Christmas
Document: 2-2, 7-Eight general
The Sixers entered December trying like a reasonably formidable crew. Undefeated at house with some spectacular beatdowns, they appeared like a tricky out within the playoffs.
After just a few extra house wins, the Sixers took to the crew bus as soon as once more, this time heading south down I-95 to Washington D.C. to play the Wizards, who had been close to the underside of the East standings. The Sixers laid what was most likely their second true egg of the season on this one, falling 119-113. They had been with out the providers of Josh Richardson on this one, who had just lately pulled his hamstring.
An indication of weak effort, the Sixers transition protection was horrid on this recreation. They allowed the Wizards to attain 1.5 factors per play after dwell rebounds. The Wizards shot eight extra free throw makes an attempt than the Sixers, nabbed 5 extra offensive rebounds and received the turnover battle 21-11. All of that mixed led to the Sixers dropping one to a weaker crew whereas capturing 48 % from three.
After this, the Sixers returned house for 3 extra wins earlier than heading up north to face the Celtics. Earlier than this recreation, Embiid had a quiet night time in opposition to the Nuggets, which prompted the ire of Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. The criticism appeared to gentle a hearth, as Embiid dominated the Celtics in Boston, main the Sixers to their finest street win.
It wasn’t simply Embiid who got here to play. The Sixers, who had been with out Al Horford on this recreation, outrebounded the Celtics by 12, took 4 extra free throws and solely turned the ball over 11 occasions. In addition they shot 50 % from three.
The three-point capturing is an outlier, however the remainder of these statistics are replicable primarily based on the personnel if the hassle is there.
Two video games later, the Sixers didn’t replicate that effort. They fell by 20 factors in Brooklyn to the Nets, who had been with out Kyrie Irving. The Sixers had been with out Joel Embiid themselves and unable to get something going offensively.
They solely tried 15 photographs on the rim and 17 free throws, in comparison with the Nets’ 44 makes an attempt and 18 free throws. They shot 5-for-26 from three as properly, en path to an offensive score of 87.8.
The Nets, beginning a lineup that includes Taurean Prince because the nominal 4-man, outrebounded them by 13, which included 12 offensive rebounds. The trouble culminated within the Sixers’ third true egg-lay of the season.
The Sixers went again out on the street proper earlier than Christmas to play the Pistons in Detroit and truly took care of enterprise on this one. They dominated the glass, received the turnover battle and performed stable transition protection.
Heading into the Christmas showdown with the Bucks, the Sixers had been 7-Eight on the street, with solely a kind of losses coming whereas at full power. Three of the losses could possibly be largely attributed to effort points.
The Disney on Ice Journey From Hell
Document: 0-4, 7-12 general
When Disney on Ice rolled into the Wells Fargo Middle, Philadelphia was feeling good about its basketball crew. The Sixers had simply dominated the perfect crew in basketball on Christmas Day, placing the league on discover with regard to how good they could possibly be.
Somewhat than feed off of the momentum from that win, the Sixers sputtered. At full power, they may barely muster any offense in opposition to the Magic in Orlando. The trouble statistics appeared to be there. The rebounding battle was tight, transition protection was not a difficulty and the Sixers tried extra free throws than the Magic. On this recreation, some dangerous capturing and Magic protection held them to 97 factors in a one-point loss. The sport ended with Horford lacking an open three to win on the buzzer.
The very subsequent night time, the Sixers stayed in Florida to play the HEAT. The crew misplaced one other tight one, falling by one level in additional time. Just like the Magic recreation, the Sixers rebounded properly and attacked the paint, however had been unable to seal the deal late. In actual fact, Tobias Harris missed a dunk late that will’ve put the Sixers up 5. Embiid adopted that miscue up by permitting himself to get stripped with the Sixers up three with lower than 20 seconds left. The following fastbreak led to a Tyler Herro three-pointer to tie the sport.
With two winnable video games misplaced, the Sixers marched on to Indiana for a New 12 months’s Eve Matinee and obtained roasted by the Pacers. Embiid missed this one, so the Sixers had been as soon as once more not at full power, however it was unlikely his presence would have made any distinction. The Pacers shot 55 % deep whereas the Sixers shot 15 %. Maybe the vacation had one thing to do with it, however this was one other laid egg on the street.
After that beatdown, the Sixers headed to Houston the place they had been dealt with by the Rockets. They as soon as once more shot very poorly from three and had problem retaining the rockets out of the paint defensively. It wasn’t a debacle just like the Pacers recreation, however it was the fruits of a four-game street dropping streak that dropped the crew to 7-12 on the street.
Embiid Damage to Current Day
Document: 2-7, 9-19 general
After the four-game dropping streak, the Sixers regrouped with a win at house over the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, however misplaced their star heart to a dislocated finger. The Sixers would go 2-Three of their 5 street video games with out Embiid.
The primary two of those got here in opposition to the Mavericks and Pacers. The Mavericks made quick work of the Sixers, simply as they did in Philadelphia earlier than Christmas. It’s protected to say the hassle wasn’t there on this one. The Mavericks outrebounded the Sixers handily and obtained to the free-throw line at a a lot increased charge. The Sixers additionally shot 23 % from deep in comparison with the Mavericks 40 %.
Two days later in Indiana, the Sixers put forth a significantly better effort, however fell in a decent one to the Pacers. They really had a lead within the fourth quarter however had been unable to generate any offense down the stretch. They did do a stable job of defending and controlling the glass.
Nearly per week later, the Sixers went again on the street for 3 straight video games in opposition to the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors. The Sixers eked one out in opposition to the Knicks after which put collectively one among their finest street efforts of the season in opposition to the Nets. The Sixers protection’ took over the sport in that one, racking up steals down the stretch to seal a victory.
The final street recreation with out Embiid got here up in Toronto, the place the Sixers bumped into a tricky Raptors crew that managed the paint. The Sixers took a ton of threes on this recreation and hit 40 % of them, however it wasn’t sufficient to beat the dearth of scoring across the basket.
The Sixers saved that recreation shut for a lot of the contest and did job of getting out in transition. The Raptors simply outplayed them on this one.
After this, the Sixers got here house for a giant win over the Lakers earlier than heading again out on the street for his or her most up-to-date four-game journey. The Sixers could be with out Richardson for this journey, as he pulled his different hamstring per week earlier. Embiid would even be taking part in with a closely taped left hand.
It began in Atlanta, the place the Sixers had been outrebounded by a really small Hawks crew. They had been additionally unable to protect Trae Younger all night time. This one could possibly be attributed to lack of effort on the defensive finish because the Hawks had their approach with the Sixers inside.
After letting that one slip, the Sixers launched into a brutal three-game stretch which only in the near past concluded in opposition to the Celtics, HEAT and Bucks. They misplaced all three.
When it comes to effort, the video games in opposition to Celtics and HEAT had been sorely missing. Each video games weren’t shut. The protection was particularly dangerous in Miami, the place the Sixers gave up 138 factors per 100 possessions. In each the Celtics and HEAT video games, the Sixers allowed these groups to regulate the paint and get to the free-throw line.
The sport in opposition to the Bucks noticed a significantly better defensive effort, however one which wasn’t ok to overthrow the crew with the league’s finest file. The offense floundered on this one because the Sixers couldn’t get into the paint but once more.
Now that we’re all caught up, listed here are the important thing takeaways from the street struggles.
The Sixers have performed eight video games on the street with their full beginning lineup accessible, in these video games, they’re 4-4. Three of these losses got here on the Disney on Ice street journey, and all of them had been inside one rating late within the recreation aside from the loss to the Rockets.
The street struggles actually grew to become a difficulty post-Christmas, because the Sixers are 2-11 on the street since then. Earlier than Christmas, the Sixers had been 7-Eight on the street and 4-1 when the complete beginning lineup performed.
A scarcity of effort performed a big position in a minimum of seven of the losses. The primary Magic recreation, the Wizards recreation, the primary Nets recreation, the primary Pacers recreation, the Mavericks recreation and the newest Celtics and HEAT video games. The remainder of the video games, the hassle stage was a minimum of excessive sufficient to not present up on the stat sheet.
The Sixers as a crew are capturing significantly better at house on the street, as most groups do. The problem is that when the photographs will not be falling, the protection appears to slide. The Sixers go from a league-best 101.9 defensive score at house to a middling 110.Eight on the street. The important thing for the Sixers going ahead will probably be bringing their defensive mindset with them to different arenas.
Basketball Insiders requested head coach Brett Brown about this after a latest recreation at house in opposition to the Grizzlies.
“I feel it’s human nature, sadly,” Brown mentioned. “It’s the good problem coaches undergo, if groups all the time let their offense dictate their protection, it means they’re actually not that good of a crew they usually’re not going to be taking part in that lengthy. The connection is actual and it’s a human nature factor. It’s simpler to play protection whenever you’re glad and scoring, and it’s more durable whenever you’re grinding it out. However grinding issues out equals Might and June. That’s the miss that I’m on because it pertains to stuff occurring on the street with us.”
Brown is correct, the offense will solely grow to be extra of a grind because the playoffs start. If this crew has any likelihood of advancing into June, they might want to decide to the defensive finish even when the offense isn’t working.
Basketball Insiders requested Horford the identical query.
“Coach has talked about that. He’s advised us that, no matter the way it’s going, we have to have that defensive mindset and that toughness to remain collectively,” Horford famous. “At occasions we haven’t been as constant as we have to, however earlier within the 12 months, I believed we had been actually, actually good at that. It’s one thing that we have to proceed to do no matter whether or not photographs are getting into or not, we’ve to defend and rebound.”
Horford’s remark concerning the Sixers being higher at that earlier within the 12 months strains up with the numbers. As talked about, the street struggles actually grew to become jarring after Christmas.
Given the file with the complete roster, it could be too early to sound the panic button simply but. If the crew continues to lack a defensive edge on the street, although, Philadelphia could possibly be staring down the barrel of a first-round exit.
If this group is ready to make the psychological adjustments required to grow to be pretty much as good defensively on the street as they’re at house, then all of the speak of the Sixers being constructed for the playoffs might come to fruition.