Lloyd Pierce should be able to give his team a better scouting report on the Sixers (3-3) than any other head coach in the NBA.
Pierce, who was hired by the Hawks on May 11 after five years on Brett Brown’s staff, brings his 2-3 Atlanta team to Wells Fargo Center on Monday night.
Last season, Pierce was in charge of a Sixers defense that had the third-best net defense rating in the league. With Billy Lange now in control of the defense, the Sixers are implementing a switch-heavy scheme. Through the first six games, the team hasn’t played up to the high standard Pierce helped set; their 109.2 defensive rating is 14th in the NBA.
Saturday night’s effort in a 105-103 win over Charlotte was perhaps the Sixers' best defensive performance of the season, largely because of an excellent night from Robert Covington, although communication issues were still apparent.
• There is one very encouraging stat for the defense: Joel Embiid is defending 19 field-goal attempts per game, the most of any player in the league. He defended 14.2 shots per game last season.
Through the first six games, opponents have shot a higher percentage against Embiid (45.6 percent vs. 40.2 percent), which can likely be attributed to both a small sample size and Embiid being switched onto perimeter players more often.
Still, having opponents take more shots against your best defensive player is undoubtedly a positive for the Sixers.
• Trae Young, who led the country in scoring and assists in his only season at Oklahoma, is the Hawks’ starting point guard, and he’s had the ball in his hands a lot. His 27.2 usage rate is the highest of any rookie. Young is averaging 19.8 points and 6.8 assists on 39.2 percent shooting. It will be interesting to see who the Sixers stick on Young as a primary defender. The length and physicality of either Covington or Ben Simmons could pose serious problems for the 20-year-old.
• Vince Carter is more than twice Young's age — he's 42 years old and still starting in the NBA. He played his first game in Philadelphia on Apr. 14, 1999. Markelle Fultz was less than a year old.
• Though Carter starts for Atlanta, DeAndre’ Bembry, a St. Joe’s product, gets more minutes — 25.8 per game off the bench. Rookie Omari Spellman also played his college basketball in the Philadelphia area, winning a national title last year at Villanova. Spellman is posting 7.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Below are the essentials for Monday's matchup:
Jerryd Bayless, G, 6-3/210, No. 0
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10, 220, No. 43
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225, No. 22
Robert Covington, F, 6-9/225, No. 33
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260, No. 21
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200, No. 20
* Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200, No. 11
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240, No. 5
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185, No. 30
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190, No. 12
* Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205, No. 18
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240, No. 31
JJ Redick, G 6-4/195, No. 17 13
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/250, No. 9
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190, No. 23
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230, No. 25
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200, No. 8
* Two-way player
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