On Monday night, the 76ers were beaten by the Los Angeles Clippers in nearly every statistical category recorded for the game of basketball. Considering they lost to a team nicknamed, “Lob City”, you would think a defining storyline to discuss two days after a 107-90 dismantling would be points in the paint, rebounding and/or fast break buckets.
Even though the Sixers did lose all of those statistical battles vs. the LAC, to me what stuck out more in that contest was the polar opposite impacts each team’s bench had on the game. At one point in the blowout affair, the Clippers bench combined for 19-straight points in the first half as they tallied 41 points overall in the game. Meanwhile DC’s second unit contributed virtually nothing until the game was well out of reach.
On the season overall, the Clippers have utilized their talented and plentiful bench to secure numerous victories. The depth and versatility of LAC’s reserves allows coach Vinny Del Negro to run five bench players on the court at several points in each game without much of a drop-off — 40.4 ppg. (2nd in the NBA).
The Sixers, on the other hand, have been the recipients of close to zero production from their bench this entire season – 25th in the League with 27.6 ppg. Prior to their garbage time induced 32 point outburst against the Clippers, the Sixers bench had been simply brutal in its last seven games. Over that stretch, Collins had received the following point totals from his non-starters — 15, 33, 19, 7, 21, 11 and 8.
If you’re keeping track at home those numbers produce an average of 16.2 ppg. over the seven game span.
That’s simply disturbing.
The hardest part about this collapse is that comes just one year removed from the Sixers leaning heavily on the dominant (3rd in NBA with 38.8 ppg.) and ever-popular “Night Shift”. Last season, when head coach Doug Collins brought Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Lou Williams and, at times, Lavoy Allen and Nicola Vucevic, into games, the 76ers’ bench players became immediate spark plugs and allowed the team to play without any drop off from its starters. Specifically, Young, Turner and Williams combined for 37.1 points per game off the pine for the red, white and blue.
But now Louuuuu is down in the ATL and “Big Nik” is taking over the basketball world in Orlando. The departure of Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand combined with the Bynum injury have pushed Thad, Turner and Allen into the starting lineup. That has left the Sixers second unit depleted and thus the Sixers have gotten little to no consistent production from their bench this season.
Stuck in the Do(u)g House for what seems like will be an eternity, Dorell Wright hasn’t been able to knock down threes this season and even attempt to prove his defensive abilities. The organization has also refused to recognize the need for a stable backup point guard to Jrue Holiday. Lastly, with Bynum’s balky knees thrusting Spencer Hawes in the first-five, Collins has refused to let rookie Arnett Moultrie play until the last week. The only other bigs option off the bench is… Kwame Brown, but still the office will not go out and secure even a band-aid solution for this issue.
Now that Jason Richardson is done for the season, the remaining string of Sixers bench players average just over 15 points per game – combined (and that’s on a good day).
Thus, while the masses are saying the Sixers would have been much more successful with a healthy Bynum in at center this season, their lack of depth begs the question…How good would the Sixers actually have been with Bynum when in reality they have no bench?
As the Clippers showed us Monday night, good teams become great when they can receive consistent production from their bench.
You can follow Jake Fischer on Twitter @JakeLFischer.