The 76ers had a rough week last week, going 2-2. It was a little disappointing for a few reasons. For one, the loss to the Heat was bad not only because it was their first home loss of the season. It was bad because the Sixers again lost the turnover battle and lost the rebounding battle.
The following game, the Sixers were hosting the Mavericks who were without their best player and MVP candidate, Luka Doncic. Again, the Sixers lost the rebounding battle and the game. In 2019, the Sixers are 1-6 when losing the rebounding battle. They are 21-4 when they win the rebounding battle. Following the two-game skid, the Sixers rebounded nicely, winning big on the back end of a back-to-back. All I can say for now is, it’s a long season and it’s way too early to panic. Trust the process.
Heat vs 76ers Dec 18
The Sixers ran into a bit of bad luck last Wednesday in the home game against the Heat, but the loss was more of an indictment on their rebounding, rather than just a few clutch, lucky shots by the Heat.
On at least four occasions during the game, the Heat hit what seemed to be very improbable shots from deep, as the shot clock was expiring. It’s a heartbreaking event every time it happens. Unfortunately, it happened to the Sixers four times in this game. Regardless of the bad luck, the Sixers lost the rebounding battle and as I stated earlier, the Sixers odds to win are drastically worse when they trail in rebounding.
Earlier in the season, the 76ers hosted the Heat and were +6 in the rebounding differential. The Sixers cruised to a huge victory in that game. This time around, the Sixers were -6 in rebounding differential and barely lost the game. Sure, the Heat made some clutch shots, but they weren’t drastically better shooting in the game (47% to 42%), but it’s clear when they lose the rebounding battle like this, the Sixers aren’t going to fare well in the game.
Mavericks vs 76ers Dec 20
No Luka Doncic means no worries, right? Apparently, the Sixers thought the Mavericks were just going to show up and go through the motions. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Without Luka, Kristaps Porzingis stepped up his game and led the Mavericks with 18 rebounds and 22 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Mavs with 27 points on 7 for 11 from deep. The key stat again for the Sixers in this game was their inability to outrebound their competition.
For the second game in a row, at home, the Sixers were outrebounded (49-46). From the first quarter on, the Mavs came out and put their foot on the gas and never let up. The effort was there for the Mavs, Tim Hardaway was lights-out from deep, and the Sixers couldn’t catch their breath. The Mavs shot 52% from the field, 42% from three, and 77% from the line. The Sixers were just 42% from the field, 29% from three, and 67% from the line. The Mavs were also +10 in points in the paint. Overall, it was a bad game for the Sixers and they had a quick turnaround with a game the following night to get back on the right track.
Wizards vs 76ers Dec 21
Following back-to-back home losses, the Sixers had less than 24 hours to get things straightened out, as they faced a defensively inept Wizards team at home. Tobias Harris had a nice bounce-back performance against the Wizards, going 3 of 6 from deep and leading the team with a plus-minus of +23. The Sixers controlled the game from the tip and looked drastically more motivated in the rebounding department (+15), gathering a total of 53 rebounds; 16 of which were on offense.
Overall, the Sixers played solid basketball and limited their turnovers to just 14, which still isn’t great, but it’s good for this team. The Sixers were 11% better from the field and 20% better from deep. They also won the battle of the points in the paint (+8).
Pistons vs 76ers Dec 23
For the second straight game, the Sixers came out big on the boards and it paid off. The Sixers were +18 on rebounding differential as the Sixers pulled away late against the Pistons Monday night. Ben Simmons was the key Monday, as he had one of the most impressive triple-double of the season (16 Pts, 13 rebounds, and 17 assists). The Sixers won both the points-in-the-paint battle (+8) and the turnover battle (+1).
Despite a proficient night shooting (54% from the field and 40% from three), the Pistons were close in those areas and was able to hang around for much longer than expected. It was a positive sign for the Sixers, putting up so much effort on the boards and moving the ball offensively with efficiency. The last two games were a great response to their brief slide and it’s a great step going into their upcoming week in which they’ll face tough tests in both the Heat and the Bucks.
2019-2020 Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) leaders
Now we have reviewed the 76ers’ week, it’s time to take a look ahead to the frontrunners for Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY). These odds come to us courtest of the FanDuel PA Online sportsbook.
Anthony Davis -175
This is a bit of a shock to me, actually. Davis is currently ranked just 31st defensively in the advanced defensive rankings on NBA.com and 4th on FoxSports.com. He’s averaging just 9.4 rebounds (second-lowest of his career), 2.7 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game. The blocks are among the league leaders, but overall, those numbers aren’t incredible.
For some weird reason, he’s the overwhelming favorite right now and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’d stay away from this bet for two reasons. For one, the spotlight is on the Lakers, so there’s a lot of bias present right now with the perception on him. Davis has always been an amazing defender, but since the whole country is watching him now, he’s getting added attention.
The second reason is health. Davis has only played more than 68 games twice in his career. If he misses a decent number of games, you have to believe it will put a dent on his resume for DPOY.
Rudy Gobert +220
Rudy Gobert is always a contender to win DPOY. Gobert is having a career year for rebounds with 14.1 per game. His steals aren’t amazing (.7) and his blocks have certainly been better in years past but he’s currently averaging just 1.8 per game in 2019. Gobert is a safe play here.
He’s played at least 81 games in three of his first six seasons, which is better than Davis’ resume by a considerable margin. Though he’s not in a big market, if he keeps up at this pace and Davis misses any time, Gobert has a shot here. Gobert is rated as the 22nd best defender by NBA.com’s metrics and 7th on Fox Sports.
Giannis Antetokounmpo +600
Giannis is my pick here for DPOY. His offense is greatly overshadowing his defense, but if you actually pay attention to the games and you look at the resume, he should probably be the leader. Giannis is rated the #1 defender on NBA.com and #3 on Fox Sports.
He is averaging 12.9 rebounds per game, 1.2 blocks, and 1.3 steals. I don’t know if Davis gets more attention because blocks tend to get more attention than rebounds or because he’s playing in LA. The big thing to me is the defensive flexibility. Giannis can guard anyone on the court while Davis tends to just guard the bigs. If the voters can avoid the big market bias and pay a little more attention to what Giannis is doing in Milwaukee, Giannis should win this award in a landslide. Also, I trust Giannis’ health a lot more than Davis. Giannis is my bet here.