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  4. title => "There's not one easy answer for Sixers' defensive problems "
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  6. article_body => "<p>There are a few obvious explanations for the Sixers\u2019 113-101 loss Friday night&nbsp;to the Pacers <a href=\"http:\/\/www.nbcsports.com\/philadelphia\/76ers\/pacers-113-sixers-101-historic-performance-joel-embiid-wasted\" target=\"_blank\"><strong><em>(see observations<\/em>)<\/strong><\/a>.&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p>Joel Embiid didn\u2019t get enough support on a night in which&nbsp;he posted 40 points and a career-high 21 rebounds; the bench continues to look awfully thin for a team with championship aspirations; it would have been nice to have Jimmy Butler (he missed his second straight game with a strained groin)&nbsp;against a good, physical Pacers team that\u2019s on a six-game winning streak and just surpassed the Sixers in the standings.<\/p>\n<p>The Sixers\u2019 defensive issues, though, defy a simple explanation.<\/p>\n<p>After giving up 70 points in the second half of Wednesday\u2019s loss to the Nets and 64 after halftime to Indiana, just about everyone you asked had a different answer.<\/p>\n<p>While head coach Brett Brown framed the defensive problems as a team concern, he did single out two young players.<\/p>\n<p>\u201cGoing down to the list, it\u2019s not like you\u2019re going to have a wide variety to choose from,\u201d Brown said. \u201cIt\u2019s not so much that, it\u2019s trying to get those guys to expedite their birth certificates. They sure felt all of [the Pacers']&nbsp;physicality, and I thought Furkan [Korkmaz] and Landry [Shamet] struggled defensively tonight.\u201d&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p>Korkmaz and Shamet just don\u2019t have the physical tools to be good NBA defenders at this stage. The Pacers identified Bogdan Bogdanovic\u2019s advantage over the 21-year-old Korkmaz. Bogdanovic&nbsp;powered through Korkmaz for a couple early baskets and torched him on several occasions during a third-quarter run by Indiana.<\/p>\n<p>JJ Redick had a different explanation.<\/p>\n<p>\u201cI\u2019ll have to look at the tape on that one,\u201d Redick said. \u201cI think the biggest thing that we didn\u2019t do tonight and didn\u2019t do well against Brooklyn was just being aware of the hot guys \u2014&nbsp;the hot guys being Bogdanovic, Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris, and allowing those guys to get catch-and-shoot threes. I thought we played our pick-and-roll defense tonight, and you\u2019re going to give some stuff up against that.\u201d<\/p>\n<p>Like Redick, Embiid identified pick-and-roll defense as a concern.&nbsp;<\/p>\n<p>\u201cPick-and-roll, we gotta adjust a lot,\u201d he said. \u201cLike I\u2019ve said in the past, it\u2019s hard because coaches want us bigs to stay back and you got guys that just go and pull up. And when you come up, they get lobs or easy baskets. That\u2019s what Indiana runs a lot&nbsp;\u2014&nbsp;they run a lot of pick-and-rolls and they took advantage of it.\u201d<\/p>\n<p>We\u2019ve already broken down the Sixers\u2019 woes with pick-and-roll defense <a href=\"http:\/\/www.nbcsports.com\/philadelphia\/76ers\/sixers-film-review-sixers-struggles-pick-and-roll-defense\" target=\"_blank\"><em><strong>(see film review)<\/strong><\/em><\/a>. As Embiid said, the Sixers prefer to play \u201cdrop\u201d coverage, which leaves them vulnerable against players capable of knocking down pull up jumpers or attacking the soft spot in the defense.<\/p>\n<p>At his locker before the game, Amir Johnson put aside the technical talk. Johnson, who did not play against the Pacers, has been on the fringe of the rotation.<\/p>\n<blockquote><p>I feel like we just gotta guard. [We've] been having trouble with 1-on-1 defense. I feel like it has to be a team effort. When we make a mistake, I feel like we gotta show anger and be pissed, like, \u2018OK, I\u2019m not going to let this motherf---er&nbsp;score on me again,\u2019 excuse my language. But that\u2019s how I think on defense, I know. I think that\u2019s what we gotta bring. I think overall we\u2019re 12th in defensive rating. I feel like if we get two or three stops, we can be top-10 or top-five or whatever. We just gotta guard and kinda feel painful when those guards coming off are scoring layups \u2026 just guard our man.<\/p>\n<\/blockquote>\n<p>Every explanation that the Sixers provided for their defensive woes is plausible. Personnel; not adjusting fast enough when an opposing player is hot; pick-and-roll scheme; intensity and pride \u2014&nbsp;all those things likely play a role.<\/p>\n<p>Butler\u2019s presence alleviates some of those issues, but one player doesn\u2019t solve a problem that complex.&nbsp;<br><br><em><strong><a href=\"https:\/\/www.nbcsports.com\/washington\/myteams-nbc-sports?utm_tags=nbcsphi1356\">Click here<\/a> to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.<\/strong><\/em><\/p>\n<h3 dir=\"ltr\">More on the Sixers<\/h3>\n<ul>\n<li dir=\"ltr\">\n<p dir=\"ltr\"><a href=\"https:\/\/www.nbcsports.com\/philadelphia\/76ers\/15-year-old-brandon-niederauer-performs-incredible-rendition-national-anthem-sixers-game\">Sixers waste Joel Embiid\u2019s historic performance <\/a><\/p>\n<\/li>\n<li dir=\"ltr\">\n<p dir=\"ltr\"><a href=\"https:\/\/www.nbcsports.com\/philadelphia\/76ers\/markelle-fultz-trade-rumors-pistons-reported-interested-what-could-sixers-get-trade\">If Pistons are interested in Fultz, what could Sixers get in a trade?<\/a><\/p>\n<\/li>\n<li dir=\"ltr\">\n<p dir=\"ltr\"><a href=\"https:\/\/www.nbcsports.com\/philadelphia\/76ers\/i-confess-i-may-have-been-wrong-about-jimmy-butler\">I confess, I may have been wrong about Jimmy Butler <\/a><\/p>\n<\/li>\n<li dir=\"ltr\">\n<p dir=\"ltr\"><a href=\"https:\/\/www.nbcsports.com\/philadelphia\/the700level\/3-potential-trades-improve-sixers-roster\">3 potential trades to improve Sixers\u2019 roster<\/a><\/p>\n<\/li>\n<li dir=\"ltr\">\n<p dir=\"ltr\"><a href=\"https:\/\/www.nbcsports.com\/philadelphia\/76ers\/nba-eastern-conference-power-rankings-raptors-celtics-sixers\">Next few games will tell us a lot about where Sixers stand in the East <\/a><\/p>\n<\/li>\n<\/ul>\n"
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There are a few obvious explanations for the Sixers’ 113-101 loss Friday night to the Pacers (see observations)

Joel Embiid didn’t get enough support on a night in which he posted 40 points and a career-high 21 rebounds; the bench continues to look awfully thin for a team with championship aspirations; it would have been nice to have Jimmy Butler (he missed his second straight game with a strained groin) against a good, physical Pacers team that’s on a six-game winning streak and just surpassed the Sixers in the standings.

The Sixers’ defensive issues, though, defy a simple explanation.

After giving up 70 points in the second half of Wednesday’s loss to the Nets and 64 after halftime to Indiana, just about everyone you asked had a different answer.

While head coach Brett Brown framed the defensive problems as a team concern, he did single out two young players.

“Going down to the list, it’s not like you’re going to have a wide variety to choose from,” Brown said. “It’s not so much that, it’s trying to get those guys to expedite their birth certificates. They sure felt all of [the Pacers'] physicality, and I thought Furkan [Korkmaz] and Landry [Shamet] struggled defensively tonight.” 

Korkmaz and Shamet just don’t have the physical tools to be good NBA defenders at this stage. The Pacers identified Bogdan Bogdanovic’s advantage over the 21-year-old Korkmaz. Bogdanovic powered through Korkmaz for a couple early baskets and torched him on several occasions during a third-quarter run by Indiana.

 

JJ Redick had a different explanation.

“I’ll have to look at the tape on that one,” Redick said. “I think the biggest thing that we didn’t do tonight and didn’t do well against Brooklyn was just being aware of the hot guys — the hot guys being Bogdanovic, Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris, and allowing those guys to get catch-and-shoot threes. I thought we played our pick-and-roll defense tonight, and you’re going to give some stuff up against that.”

Like Redick, Embiid identified pick-and-roll defense as a concern. 

“Pick-and-roll, we gotta adjust a lot,” he said. “Like I’ve said in the past, it’s hard because coaches want us bigs to stay back and you got guys that just go and pull up. And when you come up, they get lobs or easy baskets. That’s what Indiana runs a lot — they run a lot of pick-and-rolls and they took advantage of it.”

We’ve already broken down the Sixers’ woes with pick-and-roll defense (see film review). As Embiid said, the Sixers prefer to play “drop” coverage, which leaves them vulnerable against players capable of knocking down pull up jumpers or attacking the soft spot in the defense.

At his locker before the game, Amir Johnson put aside the technical talk. Johnson, who did not play against the Pacers, has been on the fringe of the rotation.

I feel like we just gotta guard. [We've] been having trouble with 1-on-1 defense. I feel like it has to be a team effort. When we make a mistake, I feel like we gotta show anger and be pissed, like, ‘OK, I’m not going to let this motherf---er score on me again,’ excuse my language. But that’s how I think on defense, I know. I think that’s what we gotta bring. I think overall we’re 12th in defensive rating. I feel like if we get two or three stops, we can be top-10 or top-five or whatever. We just gotta guard and kinda feel painful when those guards coming off are scoring layups … just guard our man.

Every explanation that the Sixers provided for their defensive woes is plausible. Personnel; not adjusting fast enough when an opposing player is hot; pick-and-roll scheme; intensity and pride — all those things likely play a role.

Butler’s presence alleviates some of those issues, but one player doesn’t solve a problem that complex. 

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