WILMINGTON, DELAWARE: The Blue Coats dressed just 8 players on the second night of a back-to-back. The Charge play with a slower pace typically, but they were careful with the ball which slowed the Blue Coats down in turn. The result was a 123-111 win for Canton. But many of the issues seen tonight also exist for the big club in Philadelphia.

For a team like Delaware (and the 76ers), turning teams over is a big key to success. Both teams struggle to generate quality offense when caught in a slower half court scenario. The defensive philosophy of both teams is to run teams off the three point line, play drop coverage to protect the rim, and let teams have the midrange.

That soft area in the midrange has become the hill that Brett Brown is willing to die on. The unfortunate downside is, while it is the most effective approach in limiting efficient offense from the other team, it can come at the expense of turnovers and easy offense. For the Blue Coats, offense has not been a problem per se, but in Philadelphia, turnovers and stagnant offense can often be the net result. 

Philadelphia 76ers’ Stocks Falling

The Sixers have fallen to 11th in opposing turnover percentage and 11th in blocked shots. As they invite teams into the soft underbelly of the midrange, they must turn teams over to disrupt the rhythm and timing of opposing offenses. The 76ers are banking that dominance on the defensive glass will eventually overcome some of the issues the team has seen early in the season. Much of the emphasis has been on the offensive problems and turnovers. The 76ers rank 27th in Turnover % in the league, but much of that can be solved by staying out of half court offense. The team is middle of the pack in pace, which is simply not good enough for a team that lacks shot creation in half court. They’ve got to find a way to get out and run – and that’s done by forcing turnovers.

Another big issue facing the team is foul rate. As Brett Brown has said the best shots in the game are layups, free throws, and corner threes. The 76ers rank 29th in opponent free throw attempts. This means that many of the steals (4th in the NBA) come at the expense of giving up free points. This is simply a killer. Matisse Thybulle, the darling rookie of the early season, is a perfect example of this balancing act. He is rated very high in stocks but also fouls at a very high rate. The team must improve its ability to turn teams over, run, and get easy offense, while limiting opponents’ trips to the line. 

On Saturday, the Blue Coats generated just 3 steals and 2 blocks versus the Charge. The Charge were happy to operate in that soft area much of the night. As a result, Canton had just 11 turnovers and scored a season high 123 points. They were 14-34 from three point range and scored well despite attempting just 6 free throws (keep in mind that 1 FT = 2 this year in the G).

Jonah Bolden 

On the second night of a back to back, Bolden dominated early with 16 points and 16 rebounds. He scored 8 of Delaware’s first 10 points and seemed to be headed towards another big offensive night. Bolden was a positive force in ball movement and screens, but did not block a shot. He already looks comfortable playing in this offense, and more playing time will almost certainly help him when he is needed in Philadelphia. 

Balanced Scoring 

The team predictably faded late in the game to lose 123-111 despite balanced scoring from Xavier Munford, Jonah Bolden, Haywood Highsmith, and Doral Moore. Six of the eight players who dressed scored in double figures, and two players, Bolden and Highsmith, had double-doubles. Highsmith had 17 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal on the night. Before the game, Highsmith worked with Isaiah Miles on individual ball skills and driving through contact. He was aggressive all night, going 7-15 from the field.

Xavier Munford poured in 3 triples in the last 2 minutes to lead the team in scoring with 21. He also added 6 assists. Munford is best when he is attacking and forcing defenses to guard him at all three levels. A capable scorer in half court, Munford was coming off a night where he dropped 17 assists against the Long Island Nets.

The Big Zig: Sixers’ STOCKS Rising