Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine’s Sixers Post. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.
Nets Dismantle Sixers Behind Career Night From Bojan Bogdanovic
Part of what has made the 2015-16 season so frustrating for Sixers’ fans, beyond just the sheer volume of losing, has been the extended periods of uninspired effort from Brett Brown‘s team.
It’s the one characteristic of losing basketball Brown was able to avoid, despite the dizzying amount of losing he has endured over his three-year Sixers career.
Emphasis on the ‘was’.
Ever since returning from the All-Star break, the Sixers have played an unwatchable, uninspiring, lifeless brand of basketball that is undeniably reminiscent of a team that has quit.
With last night’s embarrassing drubbing, carried out by the 28th-ranked offense in the league, the Sixers now have the worst defense in the league since the All-Star break, allowing teams to score 115.1 points per 100 possessions.
The loss of Robert Covington and Jerami Grant, Brown’s two best perimeter defenders, played a huge part in Bogdanovic’s career night. With Isaiah Canaan defending the shooting guard spot, Kendall Marshall defending the three at times, and Nik Stauskas playing some tiny-ball power forward, the Sixers didn’t have the bullets in their chamber to stop any legitimate team from scoring at will.
Still, short-handed or not, it takes a special kind of indifference to allow the Brooklyn Nets — the Brooklyn freaking Nets — to score 131 points in a game of basketball.
The 1.286 points per possession the Nets averaged last night was their best offensive output of the season. They shot 52.2 percent from the field, connected on 10 three-point attempts, turned the ball over on just 10.4 percent of their offensive possessions, and collected a staggering 35.9 percent of their offensive rebounding chances, on those rare instances where their initial shot didn’t go in the basket.
|Stat||Mar 15th vs Sixers||Season|
|Offensive Rebounding Rate||35.9%||23.7%|
It was also one of the most efficient offensive performances of the season, for any team. Heading into last night’s game there were 9 teams who had scored at least 130 points on 90-or-fewer field goal attempts. Those games were typically done by the best offensive teams in the league. Golden State, for example, with the #1 ranked offense, accomplished the feat 4 times. The Thunder (2nd best), Spurs (3rd best), Clippers (7th), and Rockets (8th) all did so twice.
There were a couple of other teams — The Timberwolves and the Pelicans, the 15th and 18th ranked offenses, respectively — who rode hot performances from talented young players like Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Anthony Davis, to join that group, despite not being a consistently great offense.
Last night the Brooklyn Nets, with the 3rd-worst offense in the league, rode Bojan Bogdanovic, 10 point-per-game Bojan Bogdanovic, to join that select group.
The 44 points from Bogdanovic were, by far, his career-high. His previous best was the 28 points he scored against Orlando last spring. He did so on just 27 field goal attempts, going 4-9 from three-point range and 6-7 from the free-throw line. He leaked out in transition, drove his way past indifferent defenders, scored turnaround hook shots over shorter opponents, and shot open catch-and-shoot jumpers with space generated by half-hearted closeouts.
It was quite an amazing, and rare, performance. Go through the game logs of players who score 40 points in a game and it’s filled with some of the brightest stars in the game, from Kevin Durant to Steph Curry to James Harden.
But a player averaging 10 points per night accomplishing the feat? This is Corey Brewer dropping 51 for Minnesota kind of special.
All of this defensive ineptitude is masking some legitimate progress from the team on the offensive side of the court. To quote the immortal Harry Kalas, “but who cares”. When the defense is this bad, any marginal improvement on offense is irrelevant. This is a team playing out the remaining games because the collective bargaining agreement requires they do so.
Get that 10th win, get those ping pong balls, then get some competent perimeter defenders so basketball can be fun again.