Sixers' reality check

Posted: October 17, 2013

'THIS IS reality."

Those were the words of 76ers coach Brett Brown following his team's 127-97 thumping at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. While the two organizations are headed in polar-opposite directions at the moment, there were some frightening realizations brought to light in the 48 minutes of preseason action in front of what couldn't have been more than a few thousand spectators.

While the Nets and owner Mikhail Prokhorov have gone all-in and broken the bank in order to try to capture a title, the Sixers are fielding a team that is very short on NBA-proven players. Still, the disparity in the talent level was eye-opening. And this was a Brooklyn team that was without Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry. And Kevin Garnett played under 15 minutes.

The Sixers' most glaring weakness was the interior game. If you just look at the numbers, you'll see that Brooklyn outscored the Sixers by only 44-38 in the paint, but that doesn't come close to defining the advantage the Nets had there.

Brook Lopez and Garnett could do whatever they wanted offensively in the lane against Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes. That isn't a knock on the Sixers' players, just, as Brown pointed out, the reality. For all of his valiant effort and endless activity, Young is simply out of position trying to match up defensively against the true power forwards of the league. And Hawes is probably better off trying to match up against power forwards than battling true centers. Think of it as a pitching staff in baseball. Neither Young nor Hawes is a No. 1 pitcher, but they are forced to be aces at their positions.

When Brown went to his bench, Lavoy Allen was the first big to enter, a position he was expected to fill this season. It should have been familiar territory for Allen, who basically ensured himself a 2-year deal after an impressive defensive performance against Garnett and the Boston Celtics in the 2012 postseason.

But Allen missed 2 months of summer workouts after tweaking a knee and appears to be a few weeks away as far as conditioning and timing. He was a defensive afterthought for Lopez, who scored at will against him. It isn't an overreaction to say that if Allen doesn't bust it in the next couple of weeks to get himself ready for the Oct. 30 opener, it could very well be a lost season for him.

With Nerlens Noel out for another few months, Arnett Moultrie gone for at least that long and Kwame Brown primed to be bought out, that leaves few options for paint help. Which turns the focus to Royce White. That's right, Royce White.

While the anxiety disorder from which he suffers will go a long way in determining how many games he will play, there is intrigue in his game and a possibility that he could turn out to be a good get for the Sixers. Right now, he is out of shape and his timing rivals that of a middle-aged weekend baller. But Brown has said that he sees the strength in the 6-9, 265-pound frame that could battle centers down low. You can see the athleticism White possesses in the way he catches a ball, dribbles and displays footwork. While his above-average passing and dribbling might be a bit away from being honed, he certainly can use his rebounding skills to help the team now.

"I have to rebound more. I have to be able to rebound and push it," he said after posting six points, four fouls and three each of rebounds and assists in almost 19 minutes on Monday. "Now I have to kind of get back to the balance between being physical and playing without fouling, but still being physical.

"It's a tough thing with bigs, trying to figure out that balance, especially with me being young and everything. But if you don't get stops, you don't get rebounds and you can't run. When you have a halfcourt team that is going to execute on you [like the Nets], it's going to be tough to find offensive advantages. But I think it's important for all of us to focus on rebounding. I need to do a better job as well. It's still a timing thing for me. I'm still trying to box people out for too long when I'm used to just going for the ball. That's one thing that I dealt with early when I was with Houston last year, too. Coach [Kelvin] Sampson had to tell me, 'Stop boxing out so long. You're strong enough and athletic enough to just go and get the ball.' "

That might be something the Sixers will have to count on.

And that's the reality.

Six shots

One of the Sixers' minority owners, Erick Thohir, became a majority owner of the Inter Milan soccer team, 18-time Italian champion. Thohir and two associates reportedly paid $475 million for their 70 percent stake in the team. The 43-year-old Thohir is also part-owner of D.C. United. The Indonesian is chairman of the Mahaka Group, which specializes in media and entertainment . . . The Sixers play the Bobcats in Charlotte at 11 a.m. tomorrow . . . The Sixers will hold an open practice at the Palestra on Saturday at 11 a.m. Doors will open at 10.

" @BobCooney76


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