Inside the Sixers: Sixers are becoming the team we thought they'd be

Posted: December 02, 2013

DETROIT - Well, this is it, right?

Is this the stretch?

Are the 76ers finally playing like the team that was picked to finish last in the NBA?

If their recent results are any indication, then yes, they are who we expected them to be.

We thought it was avoidable when the Sixers opened the season with three consecutive victories, over the Miami Heat, the Washington Wizards, and the Chicago Bulls. But since then they have lost 11 of 14 games.

"We've said from Day 1 as this thing unfolds, we are going to take some hits," said coach Brett Brown, whose squad dropped to 6-11 after Friday's setback to the New Orleans Pelicans at the Wells Fargo Center.

"And it's going to be a test," Brown added. "It's going to be a test for the city. It's going to be a test for the team. We have forecasted this from Day 1. And it's my job to make sure that we keep everybody focused in relation to what we are trying to accomplish here."

The Sixers are trying to accomplish three things: evaluate talent, develop the talent they are evaluating, and continue the rebuilding process by sacrificing wins this season.

Don't get it twisted. They are far from content with anything less than maximum effort. That will be obvious in Sunday's game against the Detroit Pistons (6-10) at the Palace at Auburn Hills.

Brown has been coaching them up. For the most part, his players are competing hard. The team's roster is just loaded with a lot of fringe players who can't compete on a nightly basis in the NBA. The Sixers know that. They just aren't trying to fix it.

So in most instances, the effort is great. There's just a huge disparity in the Sixers' overall talent level compared with their opponents.

Sure, they are capable of beating a veteran team that rests a star player. For the most part, the Sixers have struggled against the young and hungry squads that can match their athleticism and intensity.

That and a lack of size are among the reasons the Sixers have struggled on the defensive end.

They pack the lane as a way to compensate for their lack of height. As a result, the Sixers are leaving perimeter players alone at the three-point line and paying for it.

They were ranked last in points allowed with 109.8 per game heading into Saturday's NBA action. The Sixers were 28th out of the 30 league teams in three-point percentage defense (38.6 percent).

And with 12 of their next 18 games on the road, it doesn't get any easier for the Sixers.

"There are some positives," Brown said. "It's easy to come sit here now and feel really deflated. It's easy to point at defensive problems that we clearly have. Those are all true.

"But there are some things that I'm still believing in: them in relation to their progress, them improving, things we have executed well."

Giving maximum effort is one of the things the coach demands most. That's why Brown coaches this team as if it has an opportunity to reach the NBA Finals.

"We're here to mean it," Brown said. "We're here to develop. We're here to demand. We're here to instill accountability."

He's trying this approach as a preparation for next season.

"You don't just blink and say, 'Oh, let's try to do it now.' That ain't going to happen," he said. "It starts from the get-go. That's the only way I know to do. That's how we're all wired."


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

inquirer.com/deepsixer

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