Personnel a bigger problem than pace for Sixers

Personnel a bigger problem than pace for Sixers

Celestand on the Sixers' struggling defense

December 18, 2013, 10:00 am
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Brett Brown's Sixers have lost a season-high seven straight games. (AP)

The euphoria that the Sixers experienced when they knocked off the back-to-back champion Miami Heat is long gone. So too are the good feelings after the Sixers followed that up with two more wins to start the season 3-0.

Forget a distant memory. It’s as if those games never even took place.

All of those feelings from earlier in the season have been replaced by despair and wonderment of just how bad things can get for a Sixers club riding a season-high seven-game losing skid. Winning just four of 23 games after that surprising start will do that to a team.

The Sixers’ defense is horrific right now. They are giving up 111.2 points per game, the most in the league by 7.8 points. Their point differential is a league-worst minus-9.6.

Things have somehow taken a turn for the worse in the Sixers’ previous two games when they’ve allowed 269 combined points and an NBA-record for a two-game span of 42 three-pointers.

So how does the situation get any better?

The Sixers must alter their personnel to compete on a nightly basis.

Sure, this roster looked like it was bound for the lottery from the day it was constructed by president/general manager Sam Hinkie. However, the team is failing to even be competitive now on a nightly basis.

Part of that can be pinned on head coach Brett Brown’s break-neck pace. The idea that the Sixers could outrun other teams with their strong fitness level has been proven wrong. Not to say that being in the kind of shape that Brown has demands is not important. It certainly is, but the Sixers are not going to outscore opponents.

However, the bigger issue is simply the team’s lack of capable defenders. With Nerlens Noel sidelined, the Sixers need to invest in some wing defenders to help prevent the free passes to the basket and wide-open jumpers that have become all too familiar so far this season.

Michael Carter-Williams’ return to the court will help because he uses his length to get in passing lanes and does a decent job keeping his man in front of him.

Still, the point guard’s return from a skin infection on his knee is still unclear and it would be unwise to view the rookie as some sort of savior for such a big problem.

Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes are all players that could bring the Sixers a quality defensive name in any sort of trade. Not necessarily an All-Star or someone who will salvage this season, but a player or package of guys that can simply change the dynamic defensively.

Brown says he knew what he signed up for when he became coach of this rebuilding project.

But even he couldn’t have envisioned a team so lacking on the defensive end that it would be setting records for all the wrong reasons.