For the past six seasons, the Philadelphia 76ers have been a constant fixture in the playoffs, only missing the post-season once—in the 2009-10 campaign. That season the team’s struggles were largely due to the inability to adjust to the experimentation with Eddie Jordan’s Princeton Offense, which yielded a 27-55 record.
Even though the Sixers got to the playoffs, they were unable to make an impact, as the team lost in the first round three times. Defeating the Chicago Bulls in 6 games last postseason marked the first time the Sixers advanced past the initial round of the playoffs since the 2003 . Unfortunately, they soon lost to the Boston Celtics in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The common thread through over the past six seasons has been the poor offense the Sixers have played while having a very good defense. Their offensive struggles can be attributed to the fact that their best offensive players were Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams. Both players are capable of scoring, but are limited on that end of the floor. Another factor may have been the pace at which they played. Considering the versatile and athletic roster, the pace was rather slow.
The stats per BasketballReference.com:
|Season||Offensive Rating (rank)- measures points scored per 100 possessions||Defensive Rating (rank)- measures points allowed per 100 possessions||Points per Game (rank)||Opponent Points per Game (rank)||Pace –measures a team’s possessions per 48 minutes|
|2012-13 (as of 11/21/12)||98.7 (28/30)||99.8 (3/30)||89.8 (28/30)||90.8 (1/30)||91.1 (25/30)|
|2011-12||103.9 (20/30)||99.2 (3/30)||93.6 (20/30)||89.4 (3/30)||89.7 (24/25)|
|2010-11||106.6 (17/30)||105.0 (7/30)||99.0 (18/30)||97.5 (12/30)||91.7 (16/30)|
|2009-10||106.1 (20/30)||110.3 (14/30)||97.7(22/30)||101.6 (18/30)||91.6 (23/30)|
|2008-09||107.9 (19/30)||107.8 (14/30)||97.4 (22/30)||97.3 (11/30)||90.0 (21/30)|
|2007-08||106.4 (18/30)||106.4 (8/30)||96.6 (23/30)||96.2 (7/30)||90.4 (20/30)|
The numbers speak for themselves: the Sixers have been an average offense at best. The highest point total per night was during Doug Collins’ first year as coach, when the team scored an okay 99 points a game, ranking them 18th out of all teams. This season, the Sixers are ranked 28th in the league, scoring a meager 89.8 points per game (only the Magic and Wizards are worse).
Normally, one could point to turnovers when a team registered a small number of possessions. But this is not the case, as the Sixers have been turned the ball over at a low clip in the past six seasons. They actually had the least amount of turnovers in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. The team’s average rank in forced turnovers over the past six seasons has been 7th, eliminating the fact that they simply haven’t had the opportunity to get the ball. Instead, the fact that the Sixers chose to run a deliberate offense instead of consistently getting out on the fast break could possibly be the reason why they don’t gain many possessions.
Thus far this season Jrue Holiday has been the one silver lining on offense, averaging 18.4 pts/gm, 8.6 assists/gm while shooting 44% from beyond three. Holiday–who had high expectations given the departure of Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams coupled with the injury of Andrew Bynum– has took on the responsibility to run the team.
The Sixers are again playing elite defense, giving up only 90.9 points per game, good enough for first in the league. But if they expect to make noise in the playoffs, the team must drastically improve on offense, especially shooting the ball. The team has shot 41% as a team from the field, hovering at the bottom of the league. They aren’t getting to the line nearly enough (221 toal—23rd in the league), despite their good percentage at the charity stripe (78%–5th in the league). Per Hoopdata.com, they shoot well when they shoot around the rim (65.7%), but only get there a poor 23 times a game.
If Andrew Bynum cannot make a recovery from his persistent knee problems, the Sixers may again be on the way out of the playoffs in the first round.