Where’s the Defense?

D-FenceWe’re decided to bypass the usual Rapid Reacts format for recapping last night’s game because everyone deserves an “F” for that pathetic outing vs. the Golden State Warriors.  Even the most ardent tanking supporter had to be disgusted with what happened at the WFC last night.

Poor shooting (35.3% on FGA); horrible 3-point shooting (5-25); embarrassing work at the FT line (62%) and too many turnovers (24) were the some of the low lights during the Sixers 110-90 loss to the Andre Iguodala led Warriors.

However, not one of these issues from the game vs. the GSW is as disturbing to me as the defensive effort I saw from the 7-6 AGAIN last night.

Here’s a quick review of the Sixers defensive stats through the first 4 games of the 2013-14 season:

Points Allowed:  106.5 per game (27th in the League)

Opp. FGs:  45.6% (19th in the League)

Opp. 3PAs:  36.4% (19th in the League)

Opp. 2P%:  50%  (22nd in the League)

Opp. eFG%:  51.5% (23rd in the League)   

Def Rtg:  103.4 (16th in the League)

The 76ers rank in the bottom half of the NBA (or worse) in every major defensive category.  That’s fantastic news for all of us on the #WinlessforWiggins bandwagon, but not such as great read if you would like to watch respectable basketball played as the losses pile up this season.

Coming in to the 2013-14 season it was obvious that interior defense was going to be a glaring problem for the Sixers.   Among the Sixers bigs who receive major minutes, only Thad has proven to be somewhat of an adequate presence on the defensive end over the years.  Hawes, Allen and Moultrie are soft and frequently provide no resistance to opposing forwards and centers.  Te current Sixers bigs have traditionally struggled with rotations and help defense as well.

So I am not surprised that the back end of the Sixers defense has struggled during this young season.  However, what has been alarming to me is just how bad the Sixers perimeter players have been so far.  I know the sample size is small, but this group of long, athletic and allegedly fast players the Sixers have assembled can not guard anyone.

The idea that Evan Turner is a solid defender is a joke that I am tired of hearing. “The Enigma” struggled to grasp DC’s defensive system and I have not seen much improvement under Brown.  Last night he made Andre Iguodala look like Reggie Miller.  I mean, ‘Dre abused his protege last night like ET was an 8th grade CYO player.

Here’s the best part of Dre abusing Turner last night…According to ESPN.com, after Sixers ran their record to 3-0 with a win over Chicago, Turner sent a “fun” text to ‘Dre that read, “You’re next.”  Unfortunately for the Sixers, Iguodala had other plans.

Michael Carter-Williams needs a significant amount of work on the defensive end.  Yes, MCW is a steal machine, but nearly all of the rookie’s thefts come from slicing through the passing lanes or when he slides to help on an opposing player who is driving to the rim.  MCW struggles to defend in one-on-one situations.  Steph Curry is a great player, no doubt, but he also currently leads the League in turnovers at 6.3 per night.  Carter-Williams forced Curry in to just 2 TOVs last night as Warriors lead guard did whatever he wanted on his way to a triple-double in only 3 quarters of play. MCW is a rookie and he came from Syracuse where the team played mostly zone defense, so I believe he can get better. Right now however, his defensive effort is hard to watch.

Tony Wroten came to the Sixers with a reputation for being a solid and very physical defender.  I have not seen that type of play from #8 in the first 4 games.  At times last night he was asked to guard the Iguodala  and failed miserably.  Below is a highlight reel of last night’s loss from Comcast SportsNet.  At the :58 mark of the video (2nd Q of gm), look at the cushion Wroten gives the already red hot shooting Iguodala — simply inexcusable.



This post is getting too long to address the defensive ills of James Anderson and Darius Morris, but the video tape shows that they are struggling to grasp Brett Brown’s defensive concepts as well.

I am all for tanking in 2013-14, but I want to see exciting, solidly played games.  The defensive effort from the Sixers through three games this season had been sub-par and miraculously the team managed to win those games.  Last night the defense completely unraveled against the scoring juggernaut that is the Warriors.  With the Sixers offense struggling as well, the result was that bottom fell out and the 7-6 got crushed.

These type of blowouts will be common place if Brett Brown cannot fix the defensive issues that are plaguing the Sixers right now.  Even in the season of the tank, that would not be acceptable.


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