Hard for Philadelphia 76ers to Make a Case For Defense

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

For a team having trouble playing defense all season, the arrival of the Denver Nuggets in town to play the Philadelphia 76ers was not what first-year head coach Brett Brown had to be hoping to see.

After all, the Nuggets were the fifth-highest scoring team in the NBA coming in (averaging 104 points per game) and Brown’s best defensive player, Michael Carter-Williams, was out for the second-straight game with a sore knee. The Sixers, then, put a patchwork lineup together and did what patchwork lineups sometimes do, hang close before falling, 103-92, on a chilly night in Philadelphia.

Carter-Williams’ value to the team has already been determined. He was the star of the team’s first three games, which included wins over the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. Without him, the Sixers are 1-5 this season. The Sixers might have a developmental league team in Wilmington (Del.), called the 87ers, but in reality that’s really what they are this year, a team in transition with two 2014 first-round draft choices plus another first-round pick from this season, Kentucky product  Nerlen Noels, as a promising long-term 7-foot piece in the middle of the lineup.

They have to patch together a lineup which includes Tony Wroten and Hollis Thompson getting significant minutes in place of injured players. They are nice complementary players, but not NBA starters on any other team. They try hard, but have a limited skill set.

They could be quite good next year and quite bad this season. The NBA can change that fast. Meanwhile, they are one of the most entertaining losing teams in sports and that has got to be good enough for their fans until the Calvary arrives about 12 months from now.

Mike Gibson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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