Philadelphia 76ers continue to struggle defensively

Brett Brown’s first year with the Philadelphia 76ers has not been easy thus far. His team is young, inexperienced, and lacks NBA caliber depth that is mandatory in playoffs.

Last night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers was a defensive disaster. Because size and strength have shown to be a weakness for the young Philly team, defensive holes have been easily exposed by more talented squads. Their defense scheme is pick your poison.

Should the undersized Sixers pack men in the paint and force the opposition to shoot the ball from beyond the three-point line or do they extend the defense to the perimeter and show the soft underbelly of their defense?

As has been documented throughout the first 25 games this season, Brown and the Sixers have opted to pack it in the paint and allow the opposition to beat them from long range. That scheme couldn’t have gone any worse. The Sixers lost 139-105.

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The Trail Blazers hit a franchise record 21 three-pointers while the Sixers tied their own franchise record for most allowed in a game. Also the 21 three-pointers by the Blazers is two shy of the all-time NBA mark and the 139 points is the most scored in the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers also tied an NBA record for most games in a season allowing 15 or more three-pointers with five.

With 57 games left in the season, it’s a pretty safe bet that the Sixers will own that record fairly soon.

“This was one of those games where they were making all their shots and all we can do is throw our hands up like, ‘What else is there to do?’” asked Thad Young, who scored 15 points on 7 for 9 shooting.

The Sixers played well, leading throughout the first half, but, once again, they fell through. Defensively they were quickly scrambling around the court, but quality ball movement from the Trail Blazers left one dribble looks from around the arch. This is where some big man support underneath could benefit the team defensively.

The Blazers dropped a franchise-record 21 three-pointers, including three from Mo Williams. (USA Today Images)

The Blazers dropped a franchise-record 21 three-pointers, including three from Mo Williams. (USA Today Images)

A lot of teams have had great shooting nights against the Sixers this season. The Washington Wizards sunk 18 three-pointers in a game against the Sixers this season. Cleveland hit 13 threes against the Sixers last month and the Cavaliers are 24th in the NBA in scoring average.

Nine different players have hit five or more three-pointers in a game against the Sixers this season: John Wall, Andre Iguodala, Kyrie Irving, Danny Green, Jeremy Lin, Ryan Anderson, Aaron Afflalo, DeMarre Carroll and Wright.

Perhaps the Sixers should begin covering the perimeter more crucially.

“In a real twisted way, I love it,” said Brown, who experienced nothing but success as a longtime San Antonio assistant. “I really enjoy coaching this group. The challenge at times keeps you up late at night.”

The Sixers get a breather with a day off on Sunday before returning to action on Monday against the underachieving Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. After that, the Sixers don’t play again until next Friday when the Nets come to Philadelphia.

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