Sixers hurt by three-pointers in loss to Wizards

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Sixers hurt by three-pointers in loss to Wizards

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New Sixers coach Brett Brown says he expects some growing pains on offense with his youthful and inexperienced team. That’s the reason why he calls so few plays and will live with the mistakes, the coach says.

But the defense is another issue. In the Sixers’ 116-102 loss to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay), Brown says the plan was to protect the paint and gamble on the outside shots.

Looks like the Sixers came up with snake eyes.

For the second straight game the Sixers were battered by the three-point shot. This time the Wizards tied a Wells Fargo Center record by hitting 18 threes, hitting them at a 54.5 percent clip. Six different players hit a long ball with John Wall burying five and Martell Webster coming off the bench to nail four of them.

This comes after Andre Iguodala hit a career-high seven three-pointers and the Golden State Warriors hit 15 threes in a 20-point victory on Monday.

“If you look at those numbers they look deflating,” Brown said. “But I said from the start that we want to guard the paint. We had a 29 percent three-point shooter come in and had a helluva game. Last game Andre Iguodala came in and went bananas. We’ve chosen a way to play. We’ve chosen to protect the paint with a young team. We’ve hedged our bets and it’s hurt us.”

Wednesday was the third time this season the Sixers allowed 15 or more three-pointers in a game. Let’s put that in a bit of perspective -- the Sixers allowed 15 three-pointers in a game just twice in the last three seasons combined.

The NBA record for most times allowing 15 or more three-pointers in a game is five. At the rate the Sixers are going, they could shatter that mark by next week.

“When you come in you have to decide which sword you’re going to die on,” Brown said. “We’ve said we want to get back and guard the paint and then we’ll go out and defend the three-pointers. And when a 29 percent three-point shooter like John Wall comes in and does what he did, it’s easy to step back and second guess that.”

One has to imagine that Brown will alter the game plan. After all, the Sixers dominated the glass against the bigger Wizards, scored 42 points in the paint and shot a higher percentage from the field (47 percent to 43.9 percent).

But when a team trades two-pointers against threes, the math isn’t going to add up. That’s especially the case when the Wizards squeezed off 98 shots with 33 of them coming from long range.

Is there a way the Sixers can adjust? Is it possible to come out and contest the three-pointers instead of concentrating on protecting the paint?

Not really, says Brown. Not when many of the three-pointers are coming in transition.

“I think when you go back and look at the tape you’ll see some correlation to half-court defensive schemes, but you’ll see a lot of correlation to turnovers,” Brown said. “It’s easy to see the three-point shot and wonder what you’re doing in the half-court defense, but I think you’re going to see a lot of them coming on scrambles for the ball and turnovers instead of us rotating here or rotating there.”

In that case, chalk it up to a vicious cycle. Because the Sixers want to run and push the pace on offense, they are prone to committing turnovers. And when they commit turnovers, the Sixers are out of position to stop the three-point shot.

Again, pick your poison, Brown said.

Or, the Sixers could just stop committing turnovers. In Wednesday’s loss they gave it away 20 times. That comes after a season-high 24 turnovers in the loss to the Warriors.

Five games into the season, the 3-2 Sixers average 19.2 turnovers per game.

“I have no drills on how not to turn the ball over,” Brown said. “I don’t know what no-turnovers drills we can do. We have to be smarter in transition. We’re always trying to run and when you look at our turnovers, I think a lot of them come when we try to initiate the break.”

The Sixers play the Cavaliers on Friday and Saturday, a team that went into Wednesday’s action with just 17 three-pointers on 26.6 percent shooting for the season. Expect the Sixers to pack it in and gamble on the long shot again.

“We just have to trust him,” said Evan Turner, who led the Sixers with 24 points. “When guys are hitting threes, they’re hitting threes. When they hit them you just tip your hat to them. That’s coach’s philosophy and you have to trust it and take it from there.”

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

With the NBA's glorified exhibition in the rearview mirror, we reenter reality of the remaining NBA season. The Sixers still are looking for suitors for Jahlil Okafor while questions swirl around about the health of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. 

Some claim they are tanking still, and if those people are talking about the recent NBA power rankings then they would be right. 

Games before the All-Star break
Last Monday and Wednesday the Sixers split their two games before the break, beating the Hornets and losing to the Celtics. 

Dario Saric continues to be the Sixers' most productive player in the absence of Embiid. In the short week, he averaged 19 points (a team leader in that category both games) and 11 rebounds. 

T.J. McConnell continues to control the floor at the point, dishing out seven assists against the Hornets and eight against the Celtics. 

An inability to finish has been the story for the Sixers without Embiid. The Sixers led by one at the half against the Hornets and were tied with the Celtics at the midway point. These are good signs, but these guys are far from being contenders in the east. The experts agree. 

What's next
Only two games this week for the 76ers: Friday at home against the Wizards (7 p.m./CSN) and on the road on Sunday to play the Knicks (7:30 p.m./CSN).

What the experts say
ESPN’s Marc Stein had some fun with his rankings this week using tweets and memes to describe a team’s current situation. The Sixers dropped from 20 to 23 in his rankings — not a significant drop but a drop nonetheless. 

He used this one in his evaluation of the Sixers:

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann bumped the Sixers up from 22 to 21 this week. He sees great improvement in Saric’s game stating: “Saric has already shown a lot of improvement and TLC, with his length on the perimeter, could prove to be a great fit next to the other core pieces if he can knock down shots.”

He added a positive thought on the Demarcus Cousins trade and how the Sixers still made out well even though they were not able to ship Okafor to the Pelicans. 

“The Sixers lost a potential trading partner with the DeMarcus Cousins trade to New Orleans, but still came out a winner in the deal, because they can swap first round picks with the Kings this year and own Sacramento's pick (with no protections) in 2019.”

Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes did not move the 76ers from the 21 spot on his list last week. He writes that he is intrigued with this processing team: “Sorry, but I'm never going to stop being delighted by the Sixers finding ways to win.”

He made his prediction for games won by the Sixers if they get Embiid back on the court: “It's hard to know what Simmons might bring, but Embiid's contributions are well understood. If he makes it back and looks healthy, Philly could easily win 30-plus games.”

Finally, Fox Sports’ Andrew Lynch dropped the Sixers from 27 to 28 – yikes! His outlook is very pessimistic as he looks exclusively at the injuries of Embiid and Simmons. He writes that a complete shutdown of Simmons would make sense as the season’s end gets closer by the day. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give and Go: Do Joel Embiid's injuries limit his ceiling?

Give and Go: Do Joel Embiid's injuries limit his ceiling?

With the team at the All-Star break, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we describe Joel Embiid's rookie season.

Haughton
There are so many different ways to go when describing Joel Embiid's long-awaited rookie season.

The numbers say dominant. Embiid leads all rookies in points (20.2), rebounds (7.8) and blocks (2.4) per game. He's also second in field goal percentage (46.6) among first-year players.

Of course, the injury situation — and handling of it by the team — has made Embiid's first season a bit frustrating. After waiting two seasons for the center to overcome foot injuries, you can understand the team's cautious approach. However, the almost random playing patterns at times and the near radio silence on his medical status has left a bad taste.

Still, overall I would say Embiid's rookie campaign has been refreshing for the franchise. Following three straight seasons of absolute abysmal basketball, the Sixers finally appear to have a real building block. 

Not only that, but Embiid also gives them a charismatic personality that is filling up the Wells Fargo Center again and being recognized on a national stage. You can't ask for much more after what the organization endured in recent years.

Hudrick
Describing Embiid's season depends on which perspective you're looking at it from. 

When he's been on the court, it's been unbelievable. He's a 22-year-old Cameroonian who's only been playing the game of basketball for a few years. He also didn't play for two years after two foot surgeries. Even with all that, he's been the most exciting basketball player this city has seen since Allen Iverson.

From a statistical standpoint, his numbers align with some of the greatest rookie big men of all time. While mentioning Embiid and Hakeem Olajuwon in the same breath may be premature, it's an indication of just how spectacular he has been. Their rookie seasons actually compare favorably.

Of course, the injuries are concerning. Will he ever be a full-time player? Embiid recently expressed his interest in playing back-to-back games. The organization won't give him the opportunity this year and I'm not sure how many opportunities they'll give him in the future. 

With that said, Embiid can still make an impact in 60-something games a season. When he's on the court, he can be one of the most dominant players in the league. When healthy, Embiid is the most exciting athlete in Philadelphia.