Is this Sixers defensive statistic predictive of playoff success?

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers
Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The Philadelphia 76ers have not played inspiring basketball since the loss of their MVP big man, Joel Embiid, to a knee injury. The Sixers have notably struggled to get consistent offensive production and the losses continue to pile up. The team is 4-7 in their last 11 games and with only 11 games remaining in the regular season and playoff seeding narrowing, they need something to change.

One positive that has shown in recent games has been the Sixers' defense. Nick Nurse has been shifting lineups to try and get the most out of his players and the gaps noticed in Embiid's immediate absence seem to have been filled fairly well.

Is this defensive statistic indicative of potential playoff success?

The biggest area of improvement has been the forced turnovers by the Sixers' defense. Over their last 5 games, the Sixers have forced an average of 18 turnovers per game and those match-ups have been against some quality opponents in the Heat, Suns, Clippers, and Lakers. Paul Reed, Kelly Oubre Jr., and KJ Martin have seemingly led the way with key blocks and steals.

Even more impressive is the way the Sixers have taken care of the ball on offense too. It is almost as if Nurse has drilled into his players that the only way this team has a chance of winning games without Embiid in the lineup is by ensuring ball security. In the last three games, the Sixers have a +32 turnover difference which is a staggering statistic.

The combination of forcing more turnovers while giving up less is one of the most important indicators for playoff wins. The Sixers are 3-2 in the games referenced above, so turnovers are not the only factor in winning. What has hindered the Sixers the most is the embarrassingly poor shooting performances they have had as of late.

While the improvement in the turnover battle is necessary for this Sixers team. The exponential improvement this team could see if it continues even once Embiid is back is scary for potential Eastern Conference playoff opponents. The non-Embiid Sixers are trending up and Joel's return could come at just the perfect time.