Overreacting to a super fun night
It’s only one game, and the 114-110 result, by itself, is nothing more than just that. A result. The Heat were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, on the road, without Dwyane Wade. And the Sixers, remember, are an NBA team with NBA players. The 13-seed beat the 4-seed. Upsets happen.
So in terms of how good/bad this team is, last night won’t tell you much. But it’s enough to tell you this: the 2013-14 Sixers will be fast. They’ll be frenetic. They’ll be frustrating.
And, they’ll be fun.
Not the win championships, compete for the postseason fun. But the kind of fun that’ll make you want to watch basketball for the sake of watching basketball. The kind of fun that’ll glue you to your TV during the high-scoring, though meaningless March 4 road game against OKC, with Russell Westbrook and Michael Carter-Williams going shot for shot. The kind of fun that’ll eventually get this team regular spots on TNT Thursday nights, sooner than we’re expecting.
That’s because the long two era is over.
By now you’ve heard a few things about 16-23 footers. They’re as difficult as 3-pointers, and unlike short twos, they rarely result in foul shots. They’re the most inefficient shots in basketball. And last season, per HoopData, the Sixers attemped a league-high 24 of them per game.
Again, it’s just one game, but the n=1 – in context of the team’s front office makeover – is significant enough to indicate that times have changed.
Per NBA.com/stats, Philly attempted only nine long 2-pointers in last night’s win, with the vast majority of its field goals coming from beyond the arc or close range.
In comparison, last season when the Doug Collins-led Sixers beat the Kings 117-103 – the last time they surpassed 114 points – they attempted 30 long 2-pointers. The team needed 96 field goal attempts – they had 17 offensive rebounds – to achieve a feat that the 2013-14 Sixers accomplished with 80 field goal attempts. That’s night and day.
Note the the bare hardwood floor at the right elbow in the Sixers-Heat shot chart. Beautiful, right?
For all we know, the Sixers could revert to the Doug Collins attack and launch 35 long two-pointers against the Wizards on Friday, rendering this exercise useless. But given what we know about GM Sam Hinkie, coach Brett Brown, Aaron Barzilai, and the new hires, that appears unlikely. This trend is more than a one-game blip, and all signs are pointing to the Sixers having a fresh, efficient attack that’s reliant on 3-pointers and layups. More 114 point games are on the way, and win or lose, they’re going to be fun.