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Sixers Begin West Coast Swing In Denver

The Denver Nuggets altered their path when the season was less than a week old. The Allen Iverson/Carmello Anthony dynamic duo had a shelf life of only 1.5 seasons and when they sent Iverson packing to Detroit for Chauncey Billups, they took off.

In Billups' first 20 games with the team, they were a scorching 16-4. Over the past five, however, they've taken a bit of a nosedive. While Billups was a huge reason for their great run, his poor play has also been a main ingredient in their recent downturn. Over the past five, he's shooting a paltry 36% from the floor. I wouldn't count on that continuing, though.

After the jump we'll take a look at a couple of startling stats, I'll be online for the game tonight, so stop by and leave your thoughts in the comments here if you're watching.

If you think three-point shooting isn't such a key factor for the Sixers, check out these stats.

  • On the season, the Sixers have been outscored by 35 points.
  • On the season, the Sixers have been outscored by 204 points from three-point range.
  • In their losses, the Sixers have been outscored by 189 points from three-point range.
  • In their wins, the Sixers have shot 40% from three on 11.3 attempts.
  • In their wins, their opponents have shot 28% from three on 17.6 attempts.
  • In their losses, the Sixers have shot 23% from three on 13.5 attempts.
  • In their losses, their opponents have shot 39% from three on 18.1 attempts.
We've all heard the saying, "Live by the three, die by the three." Usually, it applies to teams like Orlando or Indiana, who take an inordinate amount of threes. The shocking thing about the Sixers, is that they average so few attempts and they really don't do a horrible job of defending the three from a statistical standpoint (34%). Why, then, is it such a telling stat?

When you look at the broader picture, it becomes apparent that three-point shooting isn't the only thing the Sixers do much better when they win. They score almost 15.1 points more (103/game in wins, 87.7 in losses), they allow 8.6 fewer points (90.5 in wins, 99.1 in losses). They create 3.23 more turnovers, and turn the ball over 2.15 fewer times in wins. They grab 1.35 more offensive rebounds, and probably the most important stat, they hold their opponents to 42.6% from the field in wins. Just about every stat you can think of, they dominate in their wins, and lose badly in their losses. Offensively and defensively.

Here's the moral of the story, as far as I can tell. The Sixer wins have come against the dregs of the league, for the most part. Generally, the bad teams in the league don't defend well. This means more open looks from three, it also means more confidence for the Sixers shooters. Now, can they beat the good teams when they're getting torched from downtown? That remains to be seen. I do know this, they should not be 29.5% from downtown as a team. This is an aberration. They're bad, but they're not that bad. Iguodala is a career 32.1% shooter from three, he's shooting 21.9%. Lou Williams shoots 32.6% for his career, he's at 26.5%.

Those two have combined to go 34/141 from three. If they were shooting their career averages from downtown, the team as a whole would be shooting 33% instead of the 29.5% rate they're currently hitting at. 33% is not good, but it's night-and-day better than where they are right now.

I'd love to be able to tell you there's a magic bullet I found somewhere in the stats that's going to fix all of the Sixers problems, but it just isn't there. Just about everything they do  poorly in their losses, they do well in their wins (except FT%, that's actually a little better in their losses.). If you take away the Charlotte loss and the Detroit win, they've pretty much beaten every team their record dicates they should, and they've lost to every team with a significantly better record.

This west coast swing is going to either confirm the fact that the are what they appear to be right now (not a good team), or they're going to pull things together, use their pressure defense to trigger their running game (two things they can do better than just about any opponent) and we'll see a return to the type of basketball they played in the second half last season. Either way, I think the best we can hope for is a 2-3 record on the trip. Most likely, it's going to be 1-4, with the only win coming at the Clippers, but even that isn't a sure thing.

Tip is at 9pm, again, I'll be here, so leave your thoughts in the comments. Hopefully, they'll prove me (and the stats) wrong.

by Brian on Dec 26 2008
Tags: Chauncey Billups | Nuggets | Pregame | Sixers |