The Philadelphia 76ers lost their third game in a row Wednesday night to close out their four-game road trip with a 1-3 record. This latest defeat was at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets 116-108. The problem in these losses has been the same, the Sixers inability to get stops late. In all three losses, they had chances to win but could not do what was necessary on the defensive end. Sixers big man Joel Embiid who finished with 29 & 14 was at a lost for words in Brooklyn on Wednesday night saying, “we forgot how to play defense.”
The Sixers are currently the eight seed in the playoff race but are only a game and a half up on the Detroit Pistons. You may have heard news about the Pistons this week. With the addition of all-star caliber forward Blake Griffin, they’ll be looking to make a playoff push. That’s why Wednesday night’s loss to the Nets is so concerning. The Nets do get up for big games against high-level opponents, but on a night when the Nets were without Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert the Sixers should have done what was necessary to win. There seems to be a connectivity issue on defense late in games, guys are not in sync on pick and roll coverage and if a mistake is made the defense is forced into scramble mode.
Philadelphia is a young team and this is all part of the growing and maturation process. But if the playoffs are this team’s ultimate goal, and it is. They will have to be able to play defense late in close games and stay disciplined in their assignments. Sixers head coach Brett Brown talked about the team’s defense following the loss, saying:
Brooklyn is an analytic, sort of, blueprint to how young teams want to play. They either want to shoot three’s, get fouled or get layups. And the volume of three’s we knew were going to come. Defensively I think we were poor. That’s who we are – I think we’re third or fourth in the NBA (defensively). I like where we’re trending defensively, but tonight you felt like you were 24th.
Following the game, Embiid talked pick and roll coverage and how the team needs to go back to basics if they want to make the playoffs.