Philadelphia 76ers: Playing fast and losing quickly

Eighteen games into the season and Philadelphia 76ers fans are seeing what was expected. Many thought Philly was proving the NBA wrong when the Sixers opened the season with three consecutive victories over the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, and Chicago Bulls, but since then they have lost 12 of 15 games. Even though they are only one game behind in the Atlantic Conference, they are losing quickly and looking like the team we anticipated.

How quick is the Sixers’ offense? Try the quickest in the NBA.

According to the numbers, the Sixers average 99.5 possessions per game. The next highest are the Minnesota Timberwolves with 98.2 possession per game.

Coach Brett Brown has openly expressed his desire for the Sixers to keep the tempo up and the shots flying. From what we have seen in these first five weeks, the Sixers are doing just that.

The Sixers' lack of size has forced them to close the lanes with bodies, which results in open 3-pointers from their opponents.

The Sixers’ lack of size has forced them to close the lanes with bodies, which results in open 3-pointers from their opponents.

Heading into Sunday’s game, the Sixers took 46 percent of their shots in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. Only five other teams take at least 40 percent of their shots within 10 seconds of a possession, but no team approaches the Sixers’ quickness.

Their intensity and ongoing desire for results does make it possible for them to beat a veteran team that rests a star player, but for the most part the Sixers have struggled against hungry teams who can match up with their athleticism.

There’s just a huge disparity in the Sixers’ overall talent level compared with their opponents. Their lack of size is one reason why the Sixers have been struggling on the defensive end. They tend to pack the lane in order to compensate for the lack of size and as a result they leave open looks from the perimeter.

Through 18 games, here’s where the Sixers’ defense resides: last in points allowed with 109.8 per game, worst in scoring defense and second to last in turnovers. They are also ranked 28th of 30 league teams in three-point percentage defense (38.6 percent).

But there are positives you can take from this considering the Sixers have the youngest average age in the league. They are currently ranked eighth in the NBA for points per game (103.7 – an average of a free Big Mac each game night at Wells Fargo), and are averaging the third most made field goals a game at 39.6.

“It’s easy to come sit here now and feel really deflated. It’s easy to point at defensive problems that we clearly have. Those are all true but there are some things that I’m still believing in: them in relation to their progress, them improving, things we have executed well,” said coach Brett Brown.

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The Sixers are trying to accomplish three things: evaluate talent, develop the talent they are evaluating, and continue the rebuilding process by sacrificing wins this season.

“It’s going to be a test for the city. It’s going to be a test for the team. We have forecasted this from Day 1. And it’s my job to make sure that we keep everybody focused in relation to what we are trying to accomplish here,” said Brown.

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