Following a dramatic victory at the TD Garden last Wednesday night against the Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers looked to carry that momentum into their next two games on Friday and Saturday. The Sixers knew they would have their hands full against these opponents, but could not have expected these lopsided outcomes.
On Friday, they welcomed back Lou Williams and Elton Brand along with the rest of the Atlanta Hawks. The Sixers suffered a 10-point loss to the Hawks back in November and were looking to have a much better result this time around.
However, this was not the case at all as the Hawks came into the Wells Fargo Center and had their way. The Sixers trailed at halftime by 12 and came out even flatter in the second half, losing the game by 26 points.
Thaddeus Young had a highly productive game on Friday night as he scored a game high 29 points. But the inability to play team defense again caused tremendous frustration out of coach Brett Brown.
“It was the poorest performance of our season tonight,” said Brown. “It’s one of the few times that I feel like the effort wasn’t there.”
The Atlanta Hawks were able to get anything they wanted on Friday night as they pretty much handled the Sixers in all aspects of the game.
They shot over 50% from the field and had 58 of their points come in the paint. Along with struggling around the rim, the Sixers could not stop the perimeter shooting as well, allowing the Hawks to shoot 50% from behind the three-point line.
Brett Brown has been preaching to the team all year long that if they do not start to improve on the defensive side of the ball, then they will not have any success. He sounds like a broken record continuously repeating this philosophy, but the message still has had no impact on the team.
“We have no appreciation for the importance of playing defense,” said Brown. “You play defense or you don’t. It is not something you decide to do in Boston and don’t decide to do here.”
Following the game at Detroit, this marks the 18th consecutive loss where the Sixers have allowed their opponents to score more than 100 points. With the season being a little more than halfway over, the Sixers have played only 5 games where the opposition has scored less than 100 points.
Out of the many issues with the team this season, scoring is perhaps their least concern. However, they tend to be very careless on offense which evidently leads to bad defense.
The Sixers turnover rate as of late has been unacceptable which is then leading to easy baskets for other teams. On Friday, they had 21 turnovers and Saturday night was not much better as they compiled 19 of them.
Brett Brown realizes that the team is aware of their struggles defensively, so they try to get themselves back in the game through offense. Therefore, they are playing at a quicker pace and having to make decisions faster which are a reason as to why they have turned the ball over so frequently.
Brown has acknowledged this issue and has repeatedly told his team that the game is changed on the defensive end, not the offensive.
“It’s a mindset where we try to get back in it on the wrong end of the floor,” said Brown. “It has to be built on the defensive end of the floor. That’s the culture of how this program has to be built and will be built or were not going anywhere.”
Brown delivered this message to the media following Friday night’s loss to the Hawks, in essence of hoping that the team will show more of an effort when they take on Detroit. However, the effort displayed by the team was subpar again losing to the Pistons 113-96.
“The people we have need to see it the way I see it,” said Brown. “You better get stops or you aren’t playing that long and certainly not during the important times of the year.”
The Sixers are a young team and it will take much more than some poor outings defensively for them to get the message. All Brown wants out of his team is to see some improvement but they have been very inconsistent in that regard.
The next game for the Sixers is Monday night as they travel to Brooklyn to take on the Nets. Out of the two games with the Nets this year, the Sixers have allowed an average of 126 points.
It will be interesting to see if the Sixers can bounce back against this division foe or roll over like they did this past weekend.
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