For the past two preseason games, we have learned outside shooting and driving to the basket are the Philadelphia 76ers biggest strengths. Defense, free throw shooting and turnovers are the areas the Sixers need improvement.
Free throws have been the biggest issue. The Sixers shot 61.3 percent against the Oklahoma City Thunder and 59.3 percent against the Boston Celtics. They need to address this going into the season, especially in close games where a free throw can determine the outcome.
Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young have been the main culprits of the Sixers’ woes at the line. Both have combined for 9-of-18 in free-throw shooting. Turner shot 50 percent against the Thunder and Young was even worse shooting 33 percent against the Celtics. They’ll need to improve that area since much of the scoring load will come from them.
The other major problem has been turnovers. They managed to average over 20 turnovers the last two games, while their opponents stayed under 20. The Sixers might have won against the Celtics, however, Boston managed only 16 compared to the 25 the Sixers gave up.
Surprisingly, rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams managed to give up only a single turnover the past two games. The Sixers uptempo style of play also increases their turnover ratio. They may have to put the ball in Carter-Williams’ hands more to cut down on the turnovers.
Lastly, the Sixers’ defense has been somewhat lacking. They allowed too many open looks for both the Thunder and Celtics, particularly in the paint. The Sixers allowed their opponents to grab more offensive rebounds than what the Philly pulled down. They even allowed their opponents to get more steals. Yesterday’s game, the Celtics stole the ball 16 times while the Sixers had 13.
These shortcomings will give the Sixers the best chance at getting the most ping pong balls for next summer’s NBA draft, unless they address them now.