- Offensive Efficiency Rating (Points scored per 100 possessions)
- Defensive Efficiency Rating (Points allowed per 100 possessions)
- Pace (Number of possessions per 48 minutes)
Specifically, we're looking at the numbers from each game, and how those numbers compare to the season average for the Sixers' opponent. So, looking at the chart below, in game 17 against the Nets, the Sixers were 15.2 points better offensively against the Nets than New Jersey's season average, 1.3 points worse defensively, and they slowed the game down by 5.9 possessions/48 minutes, which is a significant spread. Here's the complete chart:
Let's start with the totals. 99.9 PA/100 Poss. is elite defense. Boston leads the league at 99.4, with Miami second at 100.1. 109.2 PF/100 Poss. would be the 10th best offense in the league. Of course, when you win 8 of 11, you'd expect the spread in these numbers to be good, probably not that good, though. They haven't been winning nail-biters, as you're all aware. They've been pretty comfortable wins, for the most part.
There are a couple interesting things to me here. First, they've won games different ways. Portland, New Orleans, the second New Jersey game and Orlando were pretty clearly won on the defensive end. New Jersey the first time, Charlotte, Cleveland and the Clippers were beaten on the offensive end. They lost to the Lakers and Atlanta, but really put forth excellent defensive efforts in both of those games, and their offense nearly carried them to a win over Boston.
The pace differential is really interesting as well. Take a look at how much they slowed down the Clippers, the Nets, Charlotte and Boston. The Boston game is notable, because maybe if they'd upped the pace their, Boston wouldn't have had enough left in the tank for that last-second win. Boston was on the second night of a back-to-back that night. It looks like they learned their lesson against an under-manned Orlando team, though. They pumped the pace up against the Magic when they only had 8 men.
Overall, the defense has been better than the offensive, but by no means have they won these games on their defense alone. It's been a pretty even combination. When you add it all up, they're just playing very, very good basketball over the stretch.
Maybe we'll take another look after the trip to see how the numbers translated. Thoughts in the comments, as usual.