Sixers off to solid start, despite many adjustments still to be made


Mr. Bowne

Gutterman, pictured here 6 months prior to writing this narrative.

 NBA fans are roughly 13% through the 2019-2020 NBA regular season so far, and the Philadelphia 76ers have looked… overall… A little bit underwhelming. Shaky and inconsistent are two great words which sum up the Sixers first 11 games in a nutshell. As of November 14th, last coming off the loss to Orlando on the 13th, their 7 win, 4 loss record is solid, but as with any team in sports, the record of course does not tell the whole story. 

    The pre-season predictions and expectations were set very high for the 76ers by professional analysts in the media, Philadelphia sports fans, and even general NBA fans across the country. Before the first game even tipped off, many were well aware that Philly was destined to be an excellent team this season. For the first time in many years, the Sixers are stacked with a completely injury-free and highly talented roster with the poise, skill level, and potential all being there.

    Between both the offensive and defensive dominance of All-Star center Joel Embiid and the exquisite playmaking skills of 6’10” point guard Ben Simmons, the Sixers were bound to be a high achieving ball-club. Also, after acquiring both shooting guard Josh Richardson and power forward/center Al Horford this past summer in free agency, the Sixers looked to be, on paper, one of the best defensive teams in the entire league. Combining their extreme size and length with the actual defensive prowess of all five of the starters, both these factors made the 76ers lineup looked like a very tough one for opposing teams to score points on. 

   However, that truly has not at all been the case in a large handful of these first 11 games.. The Sixers have given up more than 105 points in 6 of these contests, including the game against Portland allowing 128 to the Blazers in a game where Philly’s defense looked lackluster all night long. 

   Simply looking at the statistics, the Sixers do rank 7th in the league in blocks averaging a solid 6.0 blocked shots per game. The Sixers even rank 2nd out of all 30 NBA teams in steals, averaging an impressive 9.7 per contest. However, this here is another example of a scenario where the numbers don’t always tell the full story.

    The “product” that the Sixers organization (specifically their social media and PR teams) marketed themselves on over the offseason for this current season was their supposed outstanding defense. This “marketing” of the team’s defensive ability did work, as the defense is what and analysts and fans around the league became sold on for this 76ers squad to be successful upon. 

    However, as some people did suspect even before the season’s start, offense has many times been very hard to come by for this team. The offensive struggles have been very much a common occurrence through these first 11 games. The Sixers have tended to play relatively efficient and smooth games throughout the first halves or even first three quarters of a game, but then when the 4th quarter comes around… 

    It’s as if they literally shut down, turn off, and forget how to shoot a basketball. Throughout all quarters, not just the 4th, turnovers have been a huge issue for this team, averaging a whopping 18.0 per game, which is 3rd most (3rd worst) in the league. 

   The most devastating and frustrating of the losses so far occurred against Denver solely because of a 4th quarter complete BREAKDOWN by the 76ers. At the beginning of the quarter, obviously with just 12 minutes left to go, it looked like the ballgame was pretty much already over and the Sixers had it sealed in the bag, leading by a sizeable margin 19 points. 

   Then, the tremendous fall began. The Sixers could not seem to remember how to put the ball through the net in any way, shape, or form, and on the other side of the ball could not stop the Nuggets’ offense at all. In the 4th quarter alone, Denver scored 35 points to the Sixers 13, which led them to go ahead by 3 and win the game right before the final buzzer. 

   This was all caused simply because of the 4th quarter where the Sixers found themselves unable to do anything right and could not maintain their 19-point lead, which was extremely disappointing.


   Not that it is any kind of excuse for somewhat very poor performances, but 7 of these 11 games have not been on the Sixers home floor. This includes a big 4-game road trip out west to play Portland, Phoenix, Utah, and Denver all in the course of just six days; a LOT of traveling around and plane flights. 

    Although fans may not take this into consideration, the travel time and moving around can be exhausting and take a toll on players’ bodies; just because they are top-tier athletes doesn’t mean they are not human! All 4 losses so far have actually happened to be away games, which is not uncommon; Typically teams are better on their homecourt than in the opposition’s arena.

    Lastly, 3-point shooting has been absolutely, positively ABYSMAL for this Sixers squad, with 5 of the 11 games shooting UNDER 30% from beyond the arc. The worst of these games was against Cleveland, where the Sixers netted just 8 out of 38 attempts versus the Cavaliers on November 12th. Forward Tobias Harris, notably known to be an exceptional 3-point shooter, has struggled mightily, going 0 for 11 (a career-worst night) in the game against the Cavs.

     However, to contrast with all the negatives, we do have to acknowledge some of the positives for the season so far as well. The Sixers did win all of their first 5 games and were the last remaining undefeated team in the league before taking their first loss to Phoenix on November 4th. This flaming hot start record-wise led to Philadelphia notching the #1 NBA team after Week 2 of the season in ESPN’s weekly power rankings. 

   Since that week, (2 weeks ago), Philly has lost 4 of their last 6 games, but that’s okay. Aside from this, we’ve witnessed phenomenal improvement and development notably from the young swingman Furkan Korkmaz, who is on his way to becoming a 3-point shooting specialist himself, averaging nearly 10 points per game off the bench on 40% from downtown to start his season off.

    Overall, the 76ers are still off to a solid start with a few small bumps in the road, but that is to be expected. In the long run, I truly believe the Sixers will be more than fine and reclaim their throne as the best team in the Eastern Conference.