The Brooklyn Nets entered last night’s game as the NBA’s worst shooting team, an injury-wracked squad hitting on just 43% of their field goal attempts.
Of course they found their stroke against the Sixers, firing at a 50.6% clip while pouring in 13 of 32 three-point attempts to snap a four-game losing streak in surprise fashion.
Philadelphia’s top-five defense was sub-par and subdued for most of the night, allowing more than 115 points for the second time in three games. The poor effort on that side of the floor negated a steady offensive performance, featuring a season-low eight turnovers for Brett Brown’s team.
If nothing else, this game should reinforce the notion that turnovers are certainly not the only reason why this team loses games. Turns out there’s more to basketball than just one statistical category, and when the Sixers aren’t defending the way the normally do, it doesn’t matter what happens elsewhere on the floor.
It was an utterly forgettable game in most respects, so we won’t spend a ton of time on it, not when Super Bowl 52 is 72 hours away.
1) Bad defense
Examples all over the floor last night.
Poor pick and roll defense here:
Joel Embiid will usually “zone” that play and position himself at the elbow to prevent the roll. On this sequence he’s a few feet further from the rim than normal, which makes for the easy entry pass. TLC is slow to rotate and fouls Jarrett Allen.
Allen Crabbe runs a little brush on the perimeter and T.J. McConnell switches off, leaving Robert Covington with Spencer Dinwiddie. No big deal, since Cov is your best perimeter defender, but Dinwiddie just scoots right around him for the bucket and foul from Amir Johnson.
Covington was a step behind last night defensively and almost nonexistent on the offensive end.
Again Covington is lagging on the perimeter, but Embiid does a better job of sagging and cutting off the roll. Still, Allen gets a bullshit floater to fall, which sums up how the Nets shot last night.
2) The bench
Here’s what the Sixers got from the second unit last night:
- Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot: 11 minutes, 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 blocks, 0 steals, 0-4 shooting, 3 personal fouls
- Justin Anderson: 18 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal, 1-3 shooting, 3 personal fouls
- T.J. McConnell: 20 minutes, 2 points, 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 blocks, 0 steals, 1-2 shooting, 2 personal fouls
- Trevor Booker: 14 minutes, 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 blocks, 0 steals, 3-3 shooting, 2 personal fouls
- Amir Johnson: 12 minutes, 7 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 2 blocks, 0 steals, 3-4 shooting, 3 personal fouls
That’s it. That’s what they got – 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 12 fouls.
The back court trio of McConnell, Anderson, and TLC combined for 4 points on 2-9 shooting.
The Sixer bench is bottom five or bottom ten in most categories, contributing just 27.6 points per game. If you’re looking for a silver lining, a healthy Jerryd Bayless did not play last night, a DNP for the first time this season.
3) Jahlil Okafor
14 minutes, 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 personal fouls.
Par for the course, yeah?
Some decent offense and not much defense from Jah, who is averaging about 12 MPG this month. In those 15 games, he’s averaging 5.7 points and 2.9 rebounds and shooting just above 50% from the field. He hit double digits three times, in outputs of 21, 17, and 12 points against the T-Wolves, Hawks, and Celtics. So while it’s nice to see Jah on the floor again, he’s not blowing anybody out of the water.
For comparison, Amir Johnson is putting up 4.5 and 3.6 in 14 MPG with a slightly higher FG%. Trevor Booker’s numbers are very similar, and Richaun Holmes has been mostly relegated to the bench.
So if Jah is any better than any of those three, it’s not by much. The Sixers didn’t lose much in the trade, not unless Okafor magically morphs into Bill Russell in February.