Celestand on the Sixers' struggling defense
The Sixers (7-19) return to action on Friday night in hopes of snapping their season-long seven-game losing skid when they host the Brooklyn Nets (9-16).
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CSN) at the Wells Fargo Center.
Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:
1. Help on the way
The Sixers can use every bit of assistance they get these days and a huge help could be on the way.
Michael Carter-Williams had two straight days of practice and deemed himself “ready to go” against the Nets (see story).
Carter-Williams, who is officially a game-time decision, has missed each game of the Sixers’ losing streak with a skin infection on his right knee. The team is 1-10 overall without the rookie point guard this season.
Prior to his latest injury, Carter-Williams was averaging 17.7 points, 7.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds and an NBA-leading 3.1 steals per game.
Whether MCW cures the Sixers’ losing ways or not, the team should certainly benefit from having him back on the court.
2. Defense anyone?
The Sixers hope Carter-Williams’ impact isn’t limited to the offensive end. His length could definitely help their woeful defense, especially against the Nets’ Joe Johnson.
Johnson erupted for a season-high 37 points in the Nets’ win over the Sixers on Monday with 29 of those coming during the third quarter. Johnson also made eight of his 10 three-pointers in the third.
The Sixers are allowing a league-worst 111.2 points per game this season. That number has been slightly higher during their seven straight losses (112.1 ppg).
They are also giving up a league-high 10.5 three-pointers per game and have allowed an NBA-record 42 threes over a two-game span.
Any turnaround the Sixers hope to make must start on defense. Containing Johnson and the Nets would be a good place to start.
3. Clean it up
If the Sixers somehow force the Nets to miss, they shouldn’t have a problem getting the rebounds.
The Sixers are ninth in the entire NBA in rebounding, while the Nets are tied for 26th. The Sixers are particularly efficient on the defensive glass, where they rank sixth in the league.
The Nets have an average of minus-1.9 in rebounding differential. They also lost the rebounding battle, 51-31, in their loss to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
That said, the Sixers were outrebounded in Monday’s meeting between the two teams, 42-39, and that was when the Nets were without all-star center Brook Lopez.
Carter-Williams (knee) is a game-time decision.
Nerlens Noel (knee), Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and Jason Richardson (knee) are all out.
Andrei Kirilenko (back) and Jason Terry (knee) are out for the Nets.
5. This and that
• The Sixers haven’t lost eight games in a row since a 12-game skid from Nov. 20, 2009 to Dec. 11, 2009.
• The Sixers have lost 19 of 23 after starting the season 3-0.
• The Nets had won four of five before losing to the Wizards.
• Paul Pierce scored a season-high 27 points off the bench against the Wizards.
• The Sixers aren’t the only ones that struggle defending the three. The Nets rank 28th in the league, allowing 8.7 three-pointers per game.