Posts for sixers

Executing When It Matters – Observations from Sixers 120, Nets 116

Kevin Kinkead - March 17, 2018

I don’t really have a clever opening paragraph because it’s the weekend and I’m totally fried. Later this afternoon, hoards of drunken white folks will descend on Philadelphia as they celebrate their Irish roots, or as the liberals would say, “appropriate” other cultures in tasteless fashion. We’ll leave it to Philly Mag to cover Saint Patrick’s Day.

As for the Sixers, they got the job done last night, the second night of a back-to-back against a surprisingly feisty Brooklyn squad that they just had trouble defending.

Brett Brown brought that up, unprompted, when asked for his takeaways from the four-point win:

“They really are difficult for us to guard. I think their style of play and the people that they have playing, we have struggled defending them. I give them a lot of credit. I think that our guys have been quite exceptional in the fourth period, sometimes you hate arriving at the fourth period the way that we did, but I thought we executed quite well offensively in the fourth period tonight.”

They did, and we’ll get to that shortly, but they “won” in other areas last night, hitting 44.4% from three-point range and going 22-26 from the foul line. They grabbed 13 offensive rebounds while successfully navigating early foul trouble and took care of the basketball, committing a season-low five turnovers. That went a long way in tilting the playing field on a night where Brooklyn limited mistakes while shooting 50% from three.

Brown on the turnovers:

“I think we’re just so mindful of trying to arrest that. We played a lot out of our motion, we avoided a lot of static sets and I think that moving people around and trying to make some passes simpler, we had a big turnover at the end with JJ trying to get Ben at the rim with about 1:30 left. I called a timeout, we tried to run a pick-and-roll play with those two guys but we just weren’t successful. I think just by being aware and conscious that we have to get better in that area.”

That Redick turnover was one of the few blemishes on a final period that feature some excellent playmaking and execution.

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Turning Garbage Into Gold – Observations from Sixers 118, Knicks 110

Kevin Kinkead - March 16, 2018

It felt like we were in for one of those nights. A loooooong night. A night where Michael Beasley was hitting one-footed baseline fadeaways. A night more frustrating than the stretch of the Schuylkill Expressway that spans Manayunk to Conshohocken.

I was waiting for the “fire Brett Brown,” crowd to rise from the murk and spew their vile untruths, though they might have had a point last night, because the Sixers were pretty rough for the first three quarters, allowing the Knicks, a 46.4% shooting team, to hit at a 58% clip and do pretty much whatever they wanted on the offensive end. Keep in mind, this was a New York team that hadn’t won at Madison Square Garden since January 30th.

But I sat there thinking, “there’s no way New York keeps hitting at 58%, right? They can’t keep this up, right?”


The Knicks came down to Earth in the 4th quarter and the Sixers just kept chipping away, first cutting the lead to 7, then to 4, then down to 1, before finally, ultimately getting over the hurdle for good with a Joel Embiid free throw at the 2:45 mark.

Philly won the final period 35 to 19, hitting 6 three-pointers on 10-19 shooting. New York went 6-18, shooting just 33% in the final stanza as the Sixers finally cranked up the urgency meter by a few notches.

And I think you saw a pretty steady mentality throughout. They didn’t start that well, but they also didn’t allow things to become wildly out of hand. They were down 13 at one point, but just kept slogging away, helping their case with 19 offensive rebounds and a respectable 14 turnovers, which is below their season average of 17.

Keep in mind, this was 48 hours removed from a game where Indiana finished +20 in total shot attempts, 95 to 75, a gulf created by ball handling and offensive glass issues. The Sixers cleaned it up in both areas last night to finish 91 to 87 in shot attempts, getting four more looks than their opponent.

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Is Robert Covington Good at Defense?

Kevin Kinkead - March 14, 2018

I promised this story last week, so here goes.

The premise is this:

We know that Robert Covington is a streaky shooter, a “3 and D” guy who sometimes drops fireballs from deep, but goes cold more often than not. When he’s on, he’s really on. And when he’s off, he’s really off.

That stuff is easy to identify. It’s easy for us to sit here and say, “well, Cov had 5 points last night after putting up 22 the previous night.” People bitch and whine and say he’s not performing to the level of his new contract, which results in we, the media, usually justifying his minutes with something like this:

“Well, Covington is the team’s best defender. He guards the opponent’s best player and performs well in that phase of the game, which is why Brett Brown trusts him.”

It’s so simple to parse and quantify offensive basketball data to frame a narrative, but it’s a lot harder with defensive basketball. The data doesn’t tell nearly as much of the story. You simply have to dig into the film and use your eyes to make observations and draw conclusions, the ‘ole “eye test” that college basketball pundits love to use in March. It’s a polite way of saying, “you simply didn’t watch enough games.”

We’re gonna do that with Covington. I want to pull some clips to show the things he does well, and not so well, on the defensive end of the floor.

First, let’s take a brief look at some of the numbers that DO matter without going too deep into advanced metrics.

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UFC Fighters Lee and Barboza Talk Atlantic City, Eddie Alvarez, and Basketball

Kevin Kinkead - March 14, 2018

Imagine traveling around town with a guy who you’re going to punch in the face in five weeks.

Sounds odd, but that was the case on Tuesday, when UFC fighters Kevin Lee and Edson Barboza hit a bunch of Philly spots to talk about their April 21st headlining bout at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Maybe the art of promotion in combat sports isn’t dead after all.

For Barboza, this will be his third fight in AC. He beat Evan Dunham there in 2014 at Revel Casino, the last time the UFC went to South Jersey. The Brazilian lightweight also won a pair of fights in Atlantic City back in 2010 when he was fighting for the Ring of Combat promotion. Barboza relocated to New Jersey a few years ago and trains with Toms River native Frankie Edgar and Philadelphia’s Eddie Alvarez.

Lee is a Detroit fighter who made his UFC debut in Newark but has yet to fight in our region.

It’s a interesting matchup at 155 pounds between a pair of guys coming off tough losses to elite opponents. Lee fought for the interim lightweight title in October but was bested by Tony Ferguson with a third round triangle choke. Barboza was battered by the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov back in December.

Khabib and Ferguson meet on April 7th in Brooklyn for the title that Conor McGregor won in 2016, then later vacated.

This fight should help sort out the pecking behind Ferguson and Khabib. Lee had the opportunity to fight Alvarez, but wanted Barboza instead. Eddie is three months removed from an excellent win against the previously unbeaten Justin Gaethje.

Lee and Barboza rang the bell at the Sixers game last night and were nice enough to speak for a few minutes before tip-off:

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Shooting Yourself in Both Feet – Observations from Pacers 101, Sixers 98

Kevin Kinkead - March 14, 2018

That’s a bad loss, first one at the Wells Fargo Center since December 21st, if you can believe it.

It was a combination of the same things we’ve seen in other losses – turnovers, second chance points, bone-headed plays, and a lack of fourth-quarter execution.

Take all of that, wrap it up into a nice package, and you get a three-point home defeat to a good Indiana team that played a somewhat mediocre game.

I say “mediocre” because they’re a top-ten shooting team that went 40% from the field last night and just 20.8% from three point range. Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for a diddly-poo 5-32 mark and went 1-9 from three, yet the Sixers couldn’t capitalize on a pedestrian back court offering from a team that normally shoots 47.5% and 37.1% in each department.

Here’s the thing; when you turn the ball over 21 times and allow 14 offensive rebounds, that creates a beefy gap in total shot attempts. The Pacers were +20 in this department with 95 shots to the Sixers’ 75. The fact that Brett Brown’s team was at all close in this game is a minor miracle.

I’ve said before that this team has been able to find ways to paint over the turnover issue by compensating in other areas.

Not last night.

They shot right around their season average of 46.8%, so no advantage there. The rebounding issue was complemented by measly 15-point bench effort and 25 fouls, some of which were bogus and others untimely. The refs were all over the place last night.

But the Sixers had issues in those four main areas last night – fouls, turnovers, rebounding, and bench points – so it’s like shooting yourself in each foot, then re-loading and doing it again.

Brown was asked post-game why his team is still having turnover and foul issues:

“Because I think it’s hard to expedite people’s birth certificates. I think you’re seeing young guys, if you go into who and where, it’s (that) we gotta get better with individuals. As a team we have to get better. Some of it I have to own. I think when you look at the trending that has been going on, say after the All-Star break, we are improving. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights.”

I mean, he’s not wrong. The Sixers have games in March were they’ve turned it over just 9, 9, 11, and 14 times. But they still throw up clunkers with 21, 26, and 18 turnovers, which are all above their season average. So while the average number has come down slightly as the season progresses, the wild swings in performance have not. They still have some horrendous games in this area.

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Dario Saric is Shooting the Lights Out in March

Kevin Kinkead - March 13, 2018

I wrote most of this story before Dario Saric was listed as “questionable” tonight with “gastroenteritis,” so go figure.

It seems kind of redundant to do another Dario article just a month after the last one, but it kind of needed to happen. It would be gross negligence not to pen as much as possible about the leaps and bounds he’s grown in 2018.

Because it can’t be understated.

At the time of last write-up, Dario was coming off a 10-game run in which he was shooting 48% overall and 43.4% from three point range. Nice, eh? No way could he carry that form into the second half of February or even March, right?


Here’s what Dario has done in his last 10 and 15:

He’s averaging 16.5 points per game on the strength of 50% shooting and 44.4% three-point shooting over his last 10, a stretch where the Sixers went 6-4 while playing two home games and eight on the road.

There are a billion different ways to parse Dario’s statistics over recent weeks to show how well he’s playing, so I’ll just do some bullet points.

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A Show of Superiority – Observations from Sixers 120, Nets 97

Kevin Kinkead - March 12, 2018

Good teams walk into a bad team’s building and slap them around.

That’s what the Sixers did last night, dropping 120 on the Nets in Brooklyn on the strength of eight players hitting double figures. We witnessed a 53 to 39 difference in field goal percentage, as Brett Brown’s team finished +10 in total shot attempts while turning the ball over just nine times.

That number is three fewer than the league’s best turnover team, Dallas, a squad that coughs it up just 12 times per game. It was also the fifth time this season the Sixers have turned it over less than ten times, a crop of games that they’ve finished with a 4-1 record.

They were active and alert from the start, and showed an urgency that we just didn’t see the other night in Miami. To me, the turnover performance was best complemented on the stat sheet by the Sixers’ 12 steals on the evening. T.J. McConnell had four himself, and the team finished with 11+ steals for the ninth time this season:

They’re 4-5 in those games, which is interesting to me, because I thought the number might be higher with a positive swing in possessions. The Sixers are actually 1-4 in their five best steal performances, but those came against tough opponents in Houston, Toronto, Washington, and OKC.

Go figure.

Last night, I think the difference was that they turned those 12 steals into 15 points, which should be accurate after a quick glance over the play-by-play chart. Not only did they take the ball away, but they converted on most of the possessions immediately following their steals.

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The NYT Wrote a Fultz Piece and It Was Awful

JoyOnBroad - March 11, 2018

The Sixers are in the midst of a 6-4 stretch and – a win against Cavs notwithstanding – haven’t beaten a playoff-bound team since a two-point win on February 14th against the Heat. That same Miami team has edged the Sixers by a point and trounced them by nine in the two meetings since. Fans are once again clamoring for information on No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. Typically when a national outlet posts a Sixers-related story, I expect a bombshell. Jackie McMullan penned a piece for ESPN last April in which Joel Embiid revealed for the first time publicly that the meniscus tear he suffered was feared by team doctors to be so severe that a six-month recovery was likely. In December, Ramona Shelburne wrote a biopic on Embiid for ESPN that pulled back the curtain and revealed the process and motivations behind Joel’s trolling of his opponents, as told by his teammates and Embiid himself.

That brings us to an article from the New York Times titled, “Markelle Fultz Lost His Shot. Will He Ever Find It Again?” Spoiler alert: nothing to see here. Stop me if the article’s subheading sounds like every other Reddit/forum/update post, “Fultz was the Philadelphia 76ers’ top pick in the draft last summer, largely because of his jump shot. It has now gone missing and nobody knows why.”

STOP THE PRESSES! No, really, stop the presses. How many people do you know that actually read the New York Times in paper copy outside of a library or Barnes & Noble?

“But, what about the narrative? Was it well-constructed?” you ask. Take a gander:

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