The Sixers’ defense is broken and certainly needs fixing.
The Sixers are one of 16 NBA teams that allow at least 100 points per game. They actually give up 110.1 points per game, which is the highest in the league.
“We turn it over a lot and they run at us,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “We take quick, bad shots and they run at us. And a lot of our transition defense problems are coming from turnovers and quick, bad shots because we are so adamant at playing at a speed.
“But somewhere down the road there has to be a responsibility to play that style of play.”
The Sixers commit 17.8 turnovers per game, second-worst in the league to only the Houston Rockets.
Pushing the pace lends to committing turnovers, which has been testing the Sixers’ transition defense. Add to the fact that the Sixers do not have a defensive specialist like an Andre Iguodala and therefore their defensive success must be rooted in all five guys being in sync at all times.
“Usually, that one guy dictates a lot of things that goes on defensively,” Thaddeus Young said. “We all know ‘Dre was the guy who was going to go out and stop guys. We don’t have that one guy, so different guys have to step up each night.”
“Nobody stands out and says, ‘I am a consideration for an all-defensive team,’” Brown said. “It highlights that we need a group effort. It’s not like we have shot blockers or a perimeter stopper. Anything we do has to be done as a group and done perfectly.”
Brown could opt for his team playing a more deliberate style of basketball. That could cut down on mistakes, as well as the easy baskets being scored by the opposition.
However, that is not going to happen. Brown wants his team to play fast and score plenty of points. That hasn’t been a problem with the Sixers leading the NBA in pace (102.8 possessions per 48 minutes) and ninth in scoring (103.0 points per game).
The key is to take their minus-7.1 point differential and push that into the positive range.
“I want to persevere with this style and this way of playing,” Brown said. “Because we have seen with the group that we have and the talent base and the experience we are not going to beat those teams we have beaten playing any other way.
“I just want to coach it better. I don’t want to say now we are playing on our heels and we don’t want to run anymore because it comes with too many problems, which it does at the moment.”
Brown believes down the road his team will figure out how to blend playing an up-tempo style without being reckless.
Brown did make one tweak Sunday that he is going to stick with, at least in the short term, and that is playing rookie Hollis Thompson in the starting lineup.
“We want to sell defense, and I like his length,” Brown said of Thompson. “It is a rotation at this stage that I want to experiment with. That’s what this year is about and I see it being something we want to continue looking at.”