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Friday, October 31, 2014

When Did the 76ers Become This Good?

Lost in the winning streak by the Houston Rockets spanning the past six weeks is the success of the Philadelphia 76ers. Sure, it’s a bit ironic to call a 31-34 team successful, but they have been playing well lately. Initially I took notice when I cracked on the Suns for losing at home to Philly a few weeks ago. But that was until Wednesday night, when the Sixers beat the Pistons in Detroit despite shooting barely over 40% from the field. At this point, the Sixers have won 13 of their past 17 games. Sure, they’ve beaten their share of the Knicks and Heat during the stretch of games, but they’ve also registered wins against the Mavs and Magic, in addition to the Pistons and Suns. So how did it all happen?

This is a team that doesn’t have many superstars in name. They have guys like Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Reggie Evans, Samuel Dalembert, and Thaddeus Young on the floor most of the time. Young is a guy you should get to know since he’s a rookie and performing well. If Kevin Durant weren’t taking over 15 shots a game for Seattle, Thaddeus would have a great case for rookie of the year. So what makes this group of mostly no-namers good? I took a look at their post-All-Star break splits to see and found out that they are excelling in quite a few categories.

Though only Iguodala’s averaging nearly 20ppg, they’re shooting 48.5% as a team, good for 7th in the NBA. At 11.8 turnovers a game, they’re 8th best since the break, with the Sonics turning it over the most, and the Pistons the least. Not only do they not turn the ball over much, but they also take it away the most — leading the league with 9.6 steals a game since the break. And there’s one other factor that has made the Sixers good — they’re committing the fewest fouls in the league. So what’s their formula for success? It’s not having superstars on the roster. It’s about not giving away points at the line or via turnovers, and by taking the ball away yourself. They’re almost like a conservative football team that takes care of the ball well. You might have to start paying attention to the Sixers, because they’re playing some solid ball.



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