The Sixers gave up a season-high 139 points and a franchise-record 21 threes in a loss to the Trail Blazers on Saturday night. (AP)
For Brett Brown and the Sixers’ defensive scheme, it’s pick your poison. Do the undersized Sixers pack it in the paint and force the opposition to shoot the ball from beyond the three-point line?
Or do the Sixers extend the defense to the perimeter and show the soft underbelly of their defense?
As has been documented throughout the first 25 games this season, Brown and the Sixers have opted to pack it in the paint and allow the opposition to beat them from long range. But in a 139-105 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay), that scheme couldn't have worked out worse (see observations).
The Trail Blazers hit a franchise record 21 three-pointers while the Sixers tied their own franchise record for most allowed in a game.
“This was one of those games where they were making all their shots and all we can do is throw our hands up like, ‘What else is there to do?’” asked Thad Young, who scored 15 points on 7 for 9 shooting.
It doesn’t stop there. The 21 three-pointers by the Blazers is two shy of the all-time NBA mark and the 139 points is the most scored in the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers also tied an NBA record for most games in a season allowing 15 or more three-pointers with five.
With 57 games left in the season, it’s a pretty safe bet that the Sixers will own that record fairly soon.
Meanwhile, six different Blazers made at least two three-pointers with ex-Sixer Dorell Wright going a perfect 5 for 5. Eight Blazers scored in double-figures, too, with forward LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way with 20 points and 16 boards.
Every Blazer that played scored and all but one notched at least one assist.
It was just one of those nights, again, for the Sixers, who actually led the game throughout the first half.
“It’s fool’s gold and you knew it,” Brown said. “That’s not how you’re going to play with a team like we have. I knew in my heart and in my head that at any moment it could explode and it did.”
It would be one thing if the Blazers’ 21 three-pointers were an isolated incident. You know, one of those things where a team gets hot and buries an opponent that was playing the second game of a back-to-back. But that’s not exactly the case.
A lot of teams have had great shooting nights against the Sixers this season. The Washington Wizards, a team with slightly more than the league average for three-pointers this season, drilled 18 of them in a game against the Sixers this season. Cleveland hit 13 threes against the Sixers last month and the Cavaliers are 24th in the NBA in scoring average.
Nine different players have hit five or more three-pointers in a game against the Sixers this season: John Wall, Andre Iguodala, Kyrie Irving, Danny Green, Jeremy Lin, Ryan Anderson, Aaron Afflalo, DeMarre Carroll and Wright.
Only four of those players are shooting better 36 percent from long range.
Perhaps it’s time for the Sixers to start covering the perimeter and take their chances in the paint?
“You’d love to have a team where you can say, ‘Oh, tonight we’re playing this type of team so we’re going to do this,’” Brown said. “We just need to keep it simple for our guys and sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s just difficult to manage and it starts teeing off. When you have no energy and no legs it looks worse.”
The Sixers get a breather with a day off on Sunday before returning to action on Monday against the underachieving Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. After that, the Sixers don’t play again until next Friday when the Nets come to Philadelphia.