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Stand On Your Own Two Feet

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deepsixersuede on Nov 6 at 6:39
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Brian, Jrue!s quote hit the nail on the head, and I loved reading it.And I have to say he is more qualified than our new coach probably on that end of the court after a year playing under Howland.We used to call it your man being one pass, two passes, or three passes away when teaching the kids in our league good man to man defense but at this level the talent is too good to have this work.I hope it gets better or it will be a long season.

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deepsixersuede on Nov 6 at 6:44
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Tom!s article puts some clarity on what our coach is doing rotation wise but I hope if Jrue fails this audition he isn!t buried on the bench.

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Rob_STC reply to deepsixersuede on Nov 6 at 7:36
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Well this shows you Jrue hss a high basketbsll IQ but Ty L.......sorry couldn't resist.

Seriously I think the principles here as Brian laid out are very simple. It is not just these past few games or even last year. It has been years that the Sixers have been getting beat trying to defend 3's. Think about Jim O'Briens defense which was was predicated upon the same thing. He used to say "we want to keep people out of the paint". I agree if we have big man who can block shots I would rather take my chances with that than have a team shoot 30 3's in a game because we are giving it to them. Even the Knicks shot themselves back in the game. The other thing as mentioned is figting over a screen. Lou has to get better at that because he usually goes under.Ivey can fight over a screen and even sometimes Green.

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eddies' heady's on Nov 6 at 9:38
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Any philosophy won't matter with this team until the guys play with a sense of urgency and assume accountability until the defensive rebound is secured resulting in the stop. When Dala makes comments of the sort, like when he said after the game the other night, that he thinks they just relax after several seconds on the shot clock then it won't matter what system you employ. Intensity throughout a defensive possession is absolutely vital.

At what point will these players drive and will-to-win kick in? Motivation from a coach can only go so far, a certain level or degree has to come from within.

It has been mentioned before that this team needs someone to tap into it's defensive potential. Well, doesn't potential just mean you haven't done anything of note yet?

Measureables and athletic ability in no way automatically translate to defensive prowess. Smarts and the all important will-to-want-to take precedence when it comes to defense. When you have individual defenders that are subpar (and we have quite a few), at the blink of an eye the whole team concept can be broken down. A guy can be the biggest freak of an athlete you have ever seen and be height and weight proportioned, and have passable lateral quickness, but if he lacks the IQ and the want-to then you pretty much have nothing.

Maybe our guys just have an inflated sense of self-worth. Because they sure aren't as good as they think they are or as good as they seem to believe from quotes they make to the press. Thad after the Boston game is a good example of this. If he thinks the team is as good as Boston and can compete with any team in the league, how long does it take for that sense of urgency, full-game intensity, want-to on each possession, and relentless drive for the will-to-win to shine through?


I sure am damn-skippy patiently waiting...

Honestly, I think it's a bad combination for this team and I'm not really sure how much desire plays into it. The desire is there, for the most part, in fact I think the problem is that they're too aggressive in their helping and not aggressive enough in covering their own men. I'll steal from TK76's football analogy below, and use Thad as an example. Say he's the safety when he's on the weak side, when he over-helps and jumps into the lane it's like a safety trying to jump a route and pick off the pass. The only problem is that jumping the route made him lose deep contain, and the QB pump-faked.

All hope isn't lost, and you're right, the players do need to do a much better job of executing this system, whether they (or I) agree with the principles or not. You've got a bad mixture of youth (Lou, Thad, Jrue), low basketball IQs (Sam, Speights) and somewhat diminished athleticism (Brand, Kapono) any one of which can lead to a breakdown. Make them play and adjust to an offense for 24 seconds, and something is going to slip through the cracks.

This describes basic principles of every help defense. There is a triangle between a defender, his man and the ball. the defender is supposed to be able to see the ball and their defender and that way can in theory get back to cover their man abs the ball moves.

This defensive base is sort of like "Cover 2" in football. Some teams can be great at it, but other teams play it so soft the result is a prevent defense (preventing only penetration but not shots.)

The problem is that teams try to take advantage of this, and it is susceptibility to simple 2 man games like pick and pop. On defense teams typically adapt by telling certain defenders to only give token help- which I assume EJ is doing but not going into that level of detail in the press.

Personally, I prefer more aggressive schemes like how the Celtics play. They pressure both the ball handler and players one pass away. The Sixers were taking 12 seconds just to get into their offense because the PG could not make the initial pass. This type of pressure undermines many offenses because if they start running out of time they can't get to their better options.

Sticking with a FB analogy, I'd rather go with a attacking scheme like the Ravens the a soft cover 2 scheme like Dungy runs. Both can be effective, but the Sixers quickness and length suggests an aggressive scheme to deny initial passes fits better.

Let's stick w/ the football analogy for a second. Say the on-the-ball defense is the equivalent of the pass rush in the NBA. With no pressure, a QB is going to pick apart a cover 2. Same applies here, if Lou can't stop the pressure on his own, it's only a matter of time until the ball is going to find an open shooter because the zone is busy reacting. (I think that makes sense). With the other four players all designated as helpers, penetration breaks every aspect of the defense down.

Anyway, if the Sixers are going to be scrambling to recover on the defensive end, I'd much rather have them scrambling to recover from hard doubles and traps on the perimeter, than scrambling to recover from help that isn't even needed on the weak side. I think the Sixers trapped Rondo one time in the Celtics game (Brand doubled off the P&R) and it resulted in a turnover. I'd like to see them mix in some hard traps on the P&R instead of just going with having the big execute a token show, which seems to be their MO.

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eddies' heady's reply to Brian on Nov 7 at 0:13
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Well what do you know....they hard-doubled and trapped quite a few times tonight (Hassell at least twice). It created desperately needed turnovers too on a few of them.

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JohnMagee on Nov 6 at 9:44
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So does this explain why this team hasn't been able to defend the pick & roll for close to a decade?

I'd say some combination of AI, Andre Miller, Lou Williams and Sam Dalembert has a lot to do with that decade long porblem :)

Not exactly the best players to execute great P&R defense. A combination of Lazy, Stupid and Pick magnets.

That's why I could see this eventually being a great defensive team with Jrue/Iguodala/Thad/Brand/Sam and a defensive minded coach.

That said, I thought the 1st half defense from the starters V. Celtics was great. The key was Iguodala denying passes to Allen (and Thad to Peirce.) If you can bog down the offense before it gets started the shot clock starts working for you and the other team breaks down.

Sorry, this was in response to Brian's earlier comment.

Definitely thought Jrue over-helped a couple of times that game. Hopefully it's just a young kid not fully grasping the system or just taking it too far. I do agree that Jordan's help is disturbing. I feel like this is a fairly simple point from playing basketball,Over-helping= Open Threes, plain and simple. Even though Iguodala is an elite wing defender, the strength of our D is inside WHEN Elton and Sammy play. The 1st quarter the other night was beautiful. The Celtics kept throwing it down low to Perkins and Garnett and they forced tough shot after tough shot. Let those guys handle their business down low!
Finally, I'm concerned about Thad's D. I don't have stats in front of me but right now he is a below average defender. Whether or not it's just confidence or playing too far off his man, he just isn't there yet. Pierce killed him the other night, going anywhere he wanted. He has a history of not being smart either (Ray Allen 3 in reg season last year= over-helping, Turkoglu 3 in playoffs= way too easy of a shot letting Hedo do what he was comfortable doing). The other night was a little scary because his shot wasn't going but he was hurting us on the other end too.

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Dedicated_76ers_Fan on Nov 6 at 14:45
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Keeping to the Football analogy, I remember in Maurice Cheek's first season, we employed a trap and press defensive strategy. It worked very well.

It fits this starting lineup nicely. And to be honest, the PG position is still one of the most valuable positions in basketball. Let's run traps, presses, double-teams. Pressure the imbounds pass.

Let's be the basketball version of the Eagles. Blitz, Blitz and Blitz some more! With a little zone in between :).

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Statman on Nov 6 at 16:19
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I agree 100% that the Sixers over-help too much. I noted elsewhere last year that the "protect the paint" strategy employed by Cheeks, O'Brien, and Larry Brown was effective in the 80's up to the early 90's when teams didn't take (or make) as many 3's, but half the players in the NBA today can hit a standstill open 3 better than they can hit an intermediate runner or floater. It's disturbing that Jordan also talks about protecting the paint; I had hoped his defensive strategy would be more 3-conscious (since the Princeton offense itself often involves taking lots of 3's). It's also a great point (I said it last year too) that what works in practice for the Sixers won't work during the game, because almost every team is better at shooting 3's than the Sixers.

Now, protecting the paint is necessary if a guy is going to get a lay-up or a dunk (eFG's on dunks is probably close to 100%). But as some have noted, those cases don't account for a lot of the over-helping. With players like Thad and Speights, I think a lot of it is laziness, watching the ball exclusively instead of keeping track of where your man is. Thad's losing sight of Ray Allen last year was the most egregious example (esp. since a made 3 was much worse than a made 2 -- and the potential 2 was Pierce against Iguodala and Dalembert), but I remember the 1st quarter of the Spurs game around the same time when Thad gave up 3 or 4 wide-open 3's to Matt Bonner in the 1st quarter. Matt Bonner! -- who can't do anything but shoot 3's.

Anyhow, let's hope the Sixers can keep the short-handed Nets under 10 made 3's tonight ...

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Kaponographic reply to Statman on Nov 6 at 23:22
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Well, they held them to four, but JK made four all by himself.

Funny, Bonner was the absolute difference in that game as I think it was the Parker fluky for the win, but Bonner was sizzling at the start, though one-dimensionally - which doesn't pose a threat to guard.

You guys deliver some thoughtful convo around these parts(been reading off and on). Poignant observations.


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