(In light of Tuesday’s humilating defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the GrowthPlates commune will ponder one of the great cosmic riddle: What the Hell is wrong with The 76ers?)
First up, GrowthPlates straight man d40:
The long time issue for the Philadelphia 76ers remains, “and it wasn’t supposed to be this way…”. Anyone looking at this roster should have known this team wouldn’t be very good defensively, the issue is scoring.
When you add Jason Richardson (17.5 ppg lifetime), Dorell Wright (2011 3 point champion) and Swaggy P (HIs name is Swaggy P) you expect the points to go up. Despite increased production by what now must be considered the core (Holiday, Turner and Thaddeus Young) the new guys have not yet filled the basket consistently and in a way that needs to happen to make this a contending team.
Can they? The jury is still out. Of course what really is wrong with the Sixers might be that lack of dominant man in the middle but that’s whole other story that we don’t even want to talk about right now.
Mama Rasheed’s take:
What can I say? They are not very good players!
[Collins] does not look always very engaged. He looks very quiet, and sad, and doing nothing…
[Against the Timberwolves] I thought that they would win, but when [the Timberwolves] threw the threes, one after the other, I saw, we cannot win…
[The Sixers] have to come to the basket! they keep throwing from so far away, all the shots. If they do that, they cannot win.
I told you this Bynum is nothing! HE IS N-O-T-H-I-N-G!
Finally, this screed by TheMangler:
1) This Sixer team is our team. Andrew Bynum is not playing anytime soon, and we have no pieces that can or should be traded. The aforementioned shortcomings must be accepted before we can move towards a solution.
2) What the Sixers are currently doing now does not work. They don’t have a defensive identity. They don’t pressure shooters, they don’t cut off passing lanes, they don’t rotate correctly and most importantly they do not intimidate.
The Sixers lack identity. When a team comes to the First Union Center, they do so without the expectation of any defensive intentsity. As the Timberwolves showed Tuesday night, if you play the Sixers, you will be able to execute any and all plays you execute against your 2nd team in practice. If you make your shots, you will win…easily. If you miss, it might be close. My point is, no team has to gameplan an offense to beat the Sixers. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I want to focus on a solution. And I have it.
Before writing this I had to sit down and ask myself, if I were coaching a team that was too small, too young and not talented enough to keep up with today’s NBA athletes, how would I go about trying to stop the opponent? Man to man won’t work. Zone requires too much thinking for this young team and I don’t have enough respect from the refs or adequate subs to just hack the other team’s best player. So what do I do? There is one answer…
Yes, the same wedge that the National Football League banned before the 2009 season.
For the very few of you out there who would not consider yourself a football special-teams enthusiasts (yes, there are people out there who actually don’t have an insatiable appetite for good special teams football,) the wedge involves three to five men on the return team in a line holding hands (the hand holding is absolutely crucial). There primary purpose to protect the return man. This method was so effective that NFL teams actually had to use a roster spot specifically for a completely psychotic, suicidal player to run down full speed just to break up the wedge. The results were violent collisions and injuries which eventually led to aforementioned banned.
In other words, the wedge was highly effective.
Though the NFL has a rule outlawing this, the NBA doesn’t.
Now imagine if a basketball team were to employ a modified form of the wedge. But instead of the return man, the wedges job is protect the lane and the basket. Imagine five guys holding hands around the basket daring the opposition to try to attack. The results would be an incredible psychological and strategic advantage not seen since Wilt.
For every NBA offense, the intent is to find a way to deliver the ball into the basket. For most teams, the most efficient and effective way of doing this is to get as close to the basket as possible and try to either shoot over or go around the opposing front court which is usually comprised of two guys. But what if the opposing front court was any combination of four or five guys AND they were holding hands? You’d be so psyched out that in all likelihood freeze up in panic just in time to get the ball stripped by five defenders attacking you in unison. That’s what I call an identity. I actually ran this idea by a basketball insider and here is how it went down:
Lebron James – “But can’t I just jump over them?”
Hell no, rejected. Charging. Next!
Lebron James – “I’ll just shoot over the wedge.”
Midrange and outside shooting?? LOL. Not in today’s NBA. Besides, I can’t think of a single shooter out there that is not already underachieving on the Sixer bench. What next, son?
Lebron James – “They’ll be called for a three second every time down the court.”
Valid point, they would be. But that’s where Doug Collins has a chance to get his coach on. “Hey guys, keep it movin! Side to side! And hold hands for Christ sakes!”
Lebron James – “I guess you got it all covered. But if it’s never been done, how do you know it will work? I love your blog by the way. I read it everyday when I’m not wearing my Beats by Dre.”
In fact, Lebron, it HAS been done. It was done by a team of 5’10” high school buddies who somehow ended up starting for an NBA franchise the entire season – The 2006-2007Charlotte Bobcats… of NBA 2k7. That team started a 5’10” PG and SG, a 5’8″ PF, a 5’11” Center, and Adam Morrison. How did they hold up? Not good. Bobcats went 3-79 that year. But not for their lack of defense.
You couldn’t do a whole lot worse than the current Sixers.
That’s what I call team defense.
Now you’re starting to see a pattern.
Unfortunately, that is all in the course of one Celtic possession. (The Bobcats, like the Sixers, don’t rebound, but that’s for another blog post.)