This summer’s unfortunate, but necessary departure of center Samuel Dalembert has left a gaping hole defensively at the five spot. There is absolutely no one on this 76ers roster that can shut down opposing big-men. Coming into the season we figured it would be an problem, we just didn’t realize the extent of the issue.
As a group, the 76ers current post presence have been hopeless at times on defense. Spencer Hawes has great size but his lack of mobility and athleticism kill his chances. Marreese Speights is agreat athlete who can shoot, but he lacks any resemblence of focus at the other end of the floor. Tony Battie is buried on the bench and past his better days. Elton Brand has guarded the five position at times but at 6’9” his frame is too small to contend.
Getting dominated in the paint by the opposition’s frontcourt has been a consistent theme this season. Post players facing the 7-6 have had some of their best games of the year and the scary part is we have yet to face guys like Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Carlos Boozer, Blake Griffin, Al Jefferson and Jakim Noah.
After the jump, we’ll take a look at some of the damage big men around the League have done to the 7-6 so far this season.
Game 2: 104-101 Loss To Hawks: Al Horford goes off for a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Horford scored with little resistance only missing two of his eleven field goals on the night.
Game 3: 99-86 Loss To Pacers: Center Roy Hibbert puts together a solid all-around effort with 14 points, 13 rebounds (five offensive) and five assists. Power Forwards Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansborough combined for eight rebounds on offense and 18 points.
Game 4: 116-115 Overtime Loss To Wizards: Andray Blatche scores 23 points and racks in eight rebounds. Blatche also connected on two game-winning free throws after burning Brand to the basket and picking up the foul.
Game 6: 123-116 Loss To Cavaliers: This was ugly. Not only because it was Anderson Varejao, but also thanks to his ridiculous production on the night. He matched a career high in field goals at 10 without missing a shot and tallied 23 points and 12 rebounds. On the season, Varejao’s point total from that match more than doubles his next best scoring outing. Varejao should NEVER dominate an opponent to that degree.
J.J. Hickson was solid as well with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Game 7: 106-96 Win Over Knicks: Amar’e Stoudemire has game high totals in points (21) and rebounds (15)
Game 9: 99-90 Loss To Mavericks: Box out! Please somebody just find a body and stop watching the ball bounce off the rim unfavorably. Brendan Haywood — who has been awful after signing a lucrative contract — collected nine offensive boards and 17 overall. Center Tyson Chandler put together a quality game as well with a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds).
Game 10: 116-93 Loss To Spurs: Newly crowned starter DeJuan Blair receives his first and ONLY double-double on the season with 13 points and 12 boards.
Game 12 & 15 Losses To Raptors: Both games ended in the same result — losses and huge days for post men Andrea Bargnani and Reggie Evans. Bargnani in the two games scored 54 points on 58.82% from the field. Reggie Evans collected 36 total rebounds in the games and amassed double scoring figures for the first time this season in game 15.
Game 14: 116-114 Overtime Loss To Wizards: Surprise! Another overtime loss to the Wiz Kids with another one of their big men sounding off Marreese Speights played excellent offensively in this contest but it was overshadowed after getting annihilated by JaVale McGee. Speights just lost McGee in the shuffle and forgot to put a body on him after Wizards missed field goal attempts. McGee finished the game with career highs in offensive rebounds (9) and total rebounds (18). Also a season-high point total with 24. Blatche (see above) also gave us difficulties notching up a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Game 17: 102-86 Win Over Nets: Solid winning effort thanks to Jrue Holiday’s breakout performance. But when Brook Lopez was on the floor he was giving us fits and closed out with a game-high 25 points.
Game 18: 88-79 Win Over Blazers: The second half of this win (1st back-to-back wins of the season) was arguably the best defensive effort by the Sixers in any game this year. ButLaMarcus Aldridge ( a “face-up” big by nature) finished with 20 & 12. Almost all of his damage was done in the first half as the Sixers adjusted impressively in the second half. The coaching staff had the 76ers double team Aldridge every time he touched the ball within foul-line range. They assigned Elton Brand to pester him and Brand forced, when he could, Aldridge to settle for jump shots beyond his range. The results were great as Aldridge finished with only two points in the second half on 1-7 shooting. Still 20 & 12 is a very solid night, but the 2nd half made me wonder why we haven’t seen more of this type of defensive effort as well as X&O’s against opposing bigs this season.
Over the course of history in the NBA the center position has been one of, if not the most, important roster spots. Granted there are not many dominant centers like there once was, but it’s still nearly impossible to have success as a franchise with that position being your weakest mark.
Here at Philadunkia we’ve discussed the 76ers making a move for awhile now at the five position. We understand Rod Thorn is trying to be cautious and not pull any triggers too early. But as games get uglier on the interior and our record weakens we might have to inquire about a new plan in the middle.