Sixers struggle with interior defense, 3-point shooting
MANCHESTER, N.H. - The NBA preseason is a slippery thing. Because no team is committed solely to winning, pinpointing weaknesses becomes nearly impossible.
MANCHESTER, N.H. - The NBA preseason is a slippery thing.
Because no team is committed solely to winning, pinpointing weaknesses becomes nearly impossible.
One can always find a reason for the error, whether it's a skewed rotation, a youthful combination that would never exist in December, or just a decision to focus on something else.
But 76ers fans have already cut through preseason's red tape and found two concerns: the interior presence and the lingering gap in three-point effectiveness.
On Wednesday, the Sixers completed a preseason back-to-back, losing to the Boston Celtics, 93-65, at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. They were outrebounded, 48-32, and finished 2 for 16 from three-point range.
On Tuesday, in a 103-96 loss to the New Jersey Nets at the Roanoke (Va.) Civic Center, the Sixers were outrebounded, 48-39, and outshot on three-pointers, 67 percent (8 for 12) to 11 percent (2 for 18).
In fairness, starting center Spencer Hawes picked up two early fouls and played most of the game in foul trouble. Also, a number of late-game attempts dropped the three-point percentage.
"It covers up a multitude of sins if you can make shots," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "The one thing I'm going to have to address is how we get the right pieces so we can get enough shooting out there."
In his coaching career with the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, and Washington Wizards, Collins said, it usually took him about three weeks to understand precisely how to use his personnel.
"You think you know what guys can do, and then all of a sudden that play that looked good on the board doesn't look so good anymore," he said.
On Tuesday, Nets center Brook Lopez scored 24 points in 22 minutes, 23 seconds, although the Sixers did not employ a game plan for the talented big man. "Lopez was obviously a load for us to handle with his size in the middle," said Sixers president Rod Thorn, who sat courtside. "We're depending more on our perimeter guys not to break down - making them take turnarounds and going away from the buckets, at least. I'm sure if it were a regular game, we would have addressed it more."
Hawes said the frontcourt players - himself, Marreese Speights, Elton Brand, and Craig Brackins - shouldered the responsibility to "control the middle and control our position." All four are effective perimeter players.
"I think it's a process, and as much as you play to your strengths, we need to be wary that we need production on the inside as well," Hawes said. "We need to be able to hurt teams there. That's something we're continuing to work on."
Starting five. Against the Celtics, Collins used a starting lineup of point guard Jrue Holiday, shooting guard Jodie Meeks, small forward Thaddeus Young, power forward Trent Plaisted, and Hawes.
Out. Big man Tony Battie (right knee inflammation), guard James Florence (hamstring), and forward Andres Nocioni (left ankle sprain) did not play Wednesday. Nor did Brand or swingman Andre Iguodala; Collins rested them.