Everyone on the Philadelphia 76ers must be committing to their New Year’s resolution of not being the laughing stock in the NBA, particularly on defense. The Sixers are currently on a roll with their fourth-straight win since suffering an embarrassing loss to the Phoenix Suns in late December. They can credit this to coach Brett Brown’s adjustments on defense.
The Sixers demonstrated their change on defense after last night’s win against one of the league’s best teams, the Portland Trail Blazers. This was a far cry from when they suffered an embarrassing 139-105 loss to the Trail Blazers at the Wells Fargo Center back in mid-December.
Things have changed for the Sixers since their last meeting when they allowed the Blazers to score the most points against them this season. For once the Sixers are playing with higher intensity as well as changing their lax style of defense.
All the players on the Sixers are buying into Brown’s defensive style as he has them playing man-to-man defense. The Sixers are also double-teaming more as they get beat a lot on one-on-one situations.
The Sixers also got a taste of what their opponents have been doing to them on the defensive end by forcing the Trail Blazers to turn the ball over. They managed to force the Trail Blazers to turn the ball over 18 times last night while they only gave it away four less times.
Part of the reason for the turnovers is their double-teaming, which has them getting more steals. Surprisingly, all the starters, except the league’s leading stealer Michael Carter-Williams, had at least a steal in last night’s win.
They’re also holding their last four opponents to an average of 102.3 points per game, well under their league-high 110.6 points allowed. While the 102.3 would still put them in the bottom 10, that’s a far improvement from what they’ve allowed all season.
The points allowed may not seem like much, but it is since there’s an impressive 7.5-plus point differential in the last four games. The 7.5 would easily place the Sixers fourth in the league in point differential right behind the league’s top teams: Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and just above two-time defending champ Miami Heat.
If the Sixers commit to this change, they will be looking at winning the title instead of the Jabari Parker/Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes.