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For Sixers, scoring shouldn’t be a problem in Washington | Off the Dribble

The Sixers on Thursday will face a Wizards team that entered Tuesday last in the NBA in scoring defense.

Sixers guard Ben Simmons (25) dunks against the Jazz.
Sixers guard Ben Simmons (25) dunks against the Jazz.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

Right now, things are all good in 76ers land. The Sixers have won four in a row and eight of nine after Monday’s 103-94 win over the Utah Jazz at the Wells Fargo Center.

That improved the Sixers’ record to 10-0 at home. The Sixers are 5-6 on the road and will look to get back to the .500 level when they resume action Thursday in Washington against the Wizards.

It’s a game in which there should be no shortage of offense, especially from the Sixers’ end.

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Fillin’ it up in Washington

One can’t blame the Sixers for salivating at the thought of facing the Wizards. While coach Brett Brown correctly lauded Washington for its offense, the Wizards defense has been matador-style.

Entering Tuesday, Washington was third in the NBA in scoring, averaging 118.8 points, but the Wizards were dead last in scoring defense, allowing a whopping 122.7 points per game.

By comparison, the Sixers are third in scoring defense, allowing 103.7 ppg. and 18th in scoring offense (108.6 ppg.).

When asked about the Wizards following Tuesday’s practice, Brown chose to talk about the Wizards offense.

“They really can score and have some bigs that can shoot, which is different than some of the teams we have been playing and challenges some of the defensive schemes that we have put on some of the recent teams,” Brown said.

Brown didn’t discuss the Wizards defense, but the numbers don’t lie.

Already this year, the Wizards have scored 158 points in regulation -- and lost. They fell to Houston, 159-158.

The Wizards have scored at least 120 points and still lost the game six times.

Here are the instances:

Oct. 26 at San Antonio, 122-124

Oct. 30 vs. Houston, 158-159

Nov. 13 at Boston, 133-140

Nov. 17 at Orlando, 121-125

Dec. 1 at LA Clippers, 125-150

Dec. 3 vs. Orlando, 120-127

Washington (6-13) has one of the NBA’s best offensive players in guard Bradley Beal, coming off a 42-point effort in Tuesday’s home loss to Orlando. Beal is averaging 28.7 points.

“He puts the fear in everybody because of the way he can shoot,” Brown said of Beal.

While that is correct, the Wizards put no fear on the other end of the court.

Starting five

  1. David Murphy writes that Matisse Thybulle is playing defense and hitting three-pointers at a pace among NBA rookies’ best.

  2. I write that the Sixers have two different styles when Al Horford is playing with Joel Embiid and when he isn’t.

  3. Our best and worst awards from the Sixers 103-94 win on Monday over the Utah Jazz.

  4. On his Sixers podcast, Keith Pompey and The Athletic’s Michael Lee discuss whether the Sixers are legitimate or lucky so far.

  5. In the latest Inquirer NBA power rankings, the Sixers dropped a spot, but remained in the top 10.

Quite a steal

Ben Simmons entered Tuesday second in the NBA in steals per game at 2.4. What is interesting is that the top three players in steals all have Sixers ties.

1. Jimmy Butler, Miami (2.5)

2. Ben Simmons, Sixers (2.4)

3. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans (2.0).

During his 55 regular-season games last season with the Sixers, Butler averaged 1.8 steals. Holiday spent his first four years with the Sixers. His best mark in steals came in each of his final two seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13) when he averaged 1.6.

Before this year, Simmons’ best steals season came as a rookie in 2017-18, when he averaged 1.7 per game.

Another interesting fact is that Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle entered Tuesday tied for 20th in steals with LeBron James (1.5 per game). Thybulle has averaged fewer minutes than anybody in the top 50 in steals, 15.36 per game.

One other bit of stolen information -- the last Sixer to lead the NBA in steals per game was Allen Iverson in 2002-2003, when he averaged 2.74.

Next five

Thursday: Sixers at Washington, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Saturday: Cleveland at Sixers, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV

Sunday: Toronto at Sixers, 6 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Tuesday: Denver at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Dec. 12: Sixers at Boston, 8 p.m. TNT

Passing the rock

Question: On paper, which team has the strongest 8-deep roster? Bucks, Pacers, Raptors, Celtics, Heat, or Sixers. (Most pre-season estimates now seem all wrong) — Peter Cornish via email

Answer: Thanks for the question, Peter, and for subscribing to the newsletter. This is a good question and difficult to answer.

I think the Bucks have the best bench. Former Villanova star Donte DiVincenzo, who had to start 10 games earlier this season due to injuries, has made a major leap forward in his second year. George Hill, brings veteran savvy in the backcourt. Former Sixer Ersan Ilyasova is a proven scorer, although he has struggled from three-point territory.

Another former Sixer, Kyle Korver, has yet to light it up. He is averaging 37 percent from three-point range, which is solid for most players but below his norm. Korver is a 42.8 percent career three-point shooter. Shooting guard Pat Connaughton and center Robin Lopez have also provided key minutes.