If you’ve watched the Sixers lately, you will notice that opposing teams are attacking their Guards. The Book on how to attack the 76ers largely seems to be utilize screens to get an advantageous matchup on the perimeter and then isolate the Sixers guards.
PhillyFrontOffice talked to Brett Brown before Wednesday’s game against the Knicks about potential changes to the switching scheme to combat this tactic.
Pre Game December 19
JBlevins: Are you rethinking any of your switching rules to allow Jimmy to fight through and not allow some of those ISO situations that JJ and TJ are getting caught into?
Coach Brown: Yeah we’ve been doing that a lot lately. As poor a game as the San Antonio game was for us, You notice after 2 possession we changed the Demar Derozan Pick and roll defense where we did some different things to maintain connection with Jimmy Butler. I think he (Derozan)had 2 points in the second half.
There are some random things that happened that you wish didn’t as far as delineating a rule. As Jimmy butler was seeing a pick and roll and they are bringing JJ Redick man to set it. We increasingly have done different things to avoid the switch.
I think we reacted to it quite well in the past 4-6 games.
Rules or Communication?
JBlevins: Is that a rules thing, a communication thing or a combination of both?
Coach Brown: It’s a rules thing, When you go into a game, and you make adjustment in the course of a game. There are maybe 3 major ways we would guard that pick and roll. We will make sure that everybody is aware of it. I think it will alleviate some communication things. They have to know what side the pick is coming from, but as far as what happens when the picks is there, that’s a timeout adjustment or start of game, game plan that players are aware of.
What to Watch For
The keys for the Sixers defense is avoiding ISO situations where three level scorers can put the Sixers into situations where the dribble penetration goes into the middle. By pressing the ball handlers wider and/or baseline, the job of the Rim protector becomes much more viable.
When Joel Embiid, or any rim protecting big, is forced to make complex decisions defensively, bad things happen. Opposing teams want to force Embiid to decide wether to step up and contest mid range or guard left, right all while trying deny the easy dump off to his man down low.
When a Guard can simply stay in front of his man, or force him baseline, the job of protecting the rim becomes infinitely easier. The Big can focus on boxing out and defending only close attempts at the rim.
Sixers are doing a fairly good job at denying middle so far on dribble penetration. Contested baseline jumpers is something they will live with as long as the Knicks want.— J Blevins (@JBlevinsNBA) December 20, 2018
There are nights where teams will not have the type of penetration or shooting to take advantage of the Sixers achilles heel. But those types of teams do not often wind up in the playoffs.
This is a problem that will need to be solved by April. Changing the defensive rules is only the first step in this post season preparation.