Comparing the Sixers’ downside to a season before

Tobias Harris, James Harden, Joel Embiid, P.J. Tucker, Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Tobias Harris, James Harden, Joel Embiid, P.J. Tucker, Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Defensive lapses and Sixers’ lack of lockdown defenders

Philadelphia 76ers were 7th in the league for the points allowed in the 2022 regular season, and the top four teams played in the respective conference finals, imposing the importance of the defense. In the series against the Miami Heat, with Joel’s absence, Philly’s scoring took a serious hit. But the team needed help to make stops on the defensive end to compensate for the scoring downfall. On the contrary, Heat’s defense made the series one-sided and raised questions about Philly’s capabilities to play against top teams.

The 2023 season is the same. Yes, the addition of De’Anthony Melton and PJ Tucker upped the defensive performance as a whole. Currently, the Sixers’ defense ranks 3rd in the league for points allowed, which is a huge boost, but how is it against a top team?

We have 27 games, 40% of the games played, with opponents scoring more points than our defensive average. Our offense bailed us out in 60% of those 27 games. But this percentage drops to 30 while playing against top teams. If we go through the games against the Celtics, the average points allowed this season is 114, which is more than our season average, and they won all three games – making them the biggest threat in the playoffs.

If we go deeper in the analysis, the Philly team has allowed more ranged shots than last season. The wing defense is seen as the main issue. Although De’Anthony Melton is doing his best, the defense is a team effort, and that’s where the Sixers need to improve. Melton might get a chance in the All-defensive team this season, but he alone can’t help the Sixers in the playoffs. Also, on the rebounding front, the Sixers stand 22nd in defensive rebounding with nearly two rebound differential than the previous season.

Christopher Kline also pointed out the loopholes in the Sixers’ defense, ranking the team amongst the league opponents. Improvement on the defensive end is a priority for the team to go through tougher opponents, as the offense might not be able to outscore opponents every night.