Well, you can’t pretend like he didn’t tell you. He told you. He told all of us.
When the Sixers hired Brett Brown, the new head coach was asked about his coaching philosophy. He said he wanted to play fast. But how might that impact the defensive effort, someone wondered?
“We’re not going to sacrifice scoring because we want to play good defense,” Brown said in August (see story). “I think it’s one of the great mistakes when people talk about defense. It doesn’t mean that you are going to be a low-possession team. We want to go. We want to get out in the open court and we want to run.”
They want to get out in the open court. And they do. They want to run. And they do. They don’t want to sacrifice scoring in the service of defense. And they don’t.
Man, was that a prophetic quote. Carnac the Magnificent couldn’t have seen the future any better.
The Sixers’ defense isn’t quite as funny as a Johnny Carson bit, though. At least not intentionally.
The Phoenix Suns beat the Sixers, 124-113, at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday evening (see story). The Sixers have lost 10 of their last 12 at home. They’ve also lost four in a row at home for the first time since the final games of the 2011-12 season.
The reason is simple enough. Just like Carnac, you know the answer before the question is even asked.
Answer: Stop ball.
Question: Name two four-letter words the Sixers would never use.
As someone remarked to Brown, “It didn’t seem like the team was committed to defend.”
“That’s because we weren’t,” Brown replied.
The Sixers entered Monday giving up 109.5 points per game. That’s 30th in the NBA. There are 30 teams in the NBA. That, as you’ve already figured out, is not good.
Even as poor (or no) Sixers defensive efforts go, the performance against Phoenix was particularly glaring. The Suns scored 40 points on 77.3 percent shooting in the first quarter (see 6 observations). They had 62 points on 61.5 percent shooting at the half. They had 95 points on 55 percent shooting by the third quarter. See where this is going? In the end, Phoenix scored 124 points on 53.8 percent shooting. You almost needed an abacus to count up all the oversized numbers.
“We didn’t come out the way we intended,” Brown said. “We want to end this middle third [of the season] being a better defensive team. We talk about it. We drill it. We show it. We’ve got to find a better way to get that done. We are improving. The numbers say that. Forget my opinion. To start the way we started the game at home is disappointing. That’s the bottom line.”
Brown seemed frustrated. He had a right to be. Most teams on most nights would have to try hard to not try that hard on defense. Not the Sixers. What happened on Monday wasn’t all that unusual for them.
Counting Monday, opponents have scored 100 or more points against the Sixers in 40 of 45 games this season. That includes 21 of the last 23 games and seven straight. The Sixers have given up 110 or more points 19 times. And they’ve surrendered 120 or more points nine times.
The last time the Sixers gave up 120 or more points on eight or more occasions was 17 years ago. They did it 12 times in the 1996-97 season.
But wait. There’s more. Like offense and hate defense? Fantastic. Sixers operators are standing by to take your order.
The Sixers have given up 130 or more points three times this season. They haven’t done that in two decades. Hooray history.