Before the Sixers took the floor Friday, Brett Brown pointed out a statistical correlation tied to the team’s early season success.
In each of the club’s four previous wins, the head coach noted, it had outrebounded the opposition.
Sure enough, en route to finishing off the Indiana Pacers, 121-110, the Sixers again won the battle of the boards, 50-40. The contest marked the sixth in a row that Brown’s group posted a positive rebounding margin, and third time overall this year it did so by double-figures.
A season ago, the Sixers ranked 24th in the NBA with a rebounding differential of (-) 2.2 per game. This campaign, the club’s standing has improved dramatically, all the way up to eighth, with a differential of (+) 3.0.
According to Brown, the integration of Ben Simmons has had encouraging ripple effects, on both ends of the floor. On Friday, Brown summed up Simmons’ rebounding impact.
“If you go to defensive rebounding, I think it’s the best way to initiate a fastbreak,” said Brown, citing one of Simmons’ most valuable and critical abilities. “The people that can rebound, and immediately hit the deck and lead a break are by far the most dangerous. You really put the transition defense in a world of hurt immediately.”
In respect to the offensive glass, Brown and his staff have focused on Simmons’ positioning, especially with Joel Embiid, another productive rebounder, on the court, too.
“I think when you see how I’m playing him off Joel, behind Joel, you’re going to see him navigating the weak side a lot, him playing behind the backboard, flashing into the middle,” Brown explained. “I think that movement makes him an elusive offensive rebounder.”
Either way, Brown likes what Simmons has brought to the table.
“His ability to rebound defensively and offensively helps us. It’s just another reminder how important it is for him to help us do that.”
As of Monday morning, Simmons ranked 15th among all players with an average of 9.8 boards.
Holmes Back with a Burst
In the 10 minutes, 11 seconds he logged Friday versus Indiana, Richaun Holmes seemed as if he was trying to make up for eight games worth of lost paint buckets, rebounds, and rim protecting.
True to form, the third-year power forward made his presence felt in energetic fashion, tallying 6 points and 5 rebounds, with all but 1 carom coming on the offensive boards. All of Holmes’ minutes came after halftime.
“I thought we needed a jolt,” Brett Brown said Friday. “Richaun is sort of a lightning bolt off the bench with his energy and speed. He’s a dynamic roller. I thought to bring him back in and play a strong 10 minutes in the second half and do what he did it was a tremendous boost for us.”
Holmes missed the Sixers’ first eight games of the season while rehabbing from a fractured left wrist. He received a hearty ovation from the sellout crowd of 20,668 upon entering Friday’s contest for the first time.
Scanning Some Stats
As if the Sixers’ four-game winning streak, currently third-longest in the NBA, weren’t enough to indicate the team is playing at a high level, here’s some additional tangible evidence to chew on.
Since October 28th, which was when the Sixers started their spurt with a victory in Dallas, they hold the following ranks among the NBA’s 30 clubs (source: stats.nba.com, espn.com):
• #2-105.40 possessions per game (pace)
• #3-111.5 points per 100 possessions (offensive rating)
• #12-102.8 points allowed per 100 possessions (defensive rating)
• #5-8.7 net rating
• #2-50.0 fg% (GSW)
• #2-58.0 effective fg% (GSW)
• #3-59.6 true shooting%
• #3-13.6 3fg made per 100 possessions
• #3-43.8 3fg%
• #6-46.1 rebounds per 100 possessions
• #5-26.6 offensive reb%
• #2-55.1 reb%
• #2-29.1 assists per 100 possessions (GSW)
• #4-68.2 ast%
• #8-8.8 steals per 100 possessions
• #4-16.3 deflections per game
Furthermore, several individual members of the Sixers’ roster presently stand out statistically in respect to their peers. Here’s an update on where they rank on the NBA’s season-long leaderboard (source: stats.nba.com, espn.com):
• #26-20.5 points per game
• #12-10.1 rebounds per game
• #4-33.7 usage%
• #4-56.3 mid-range fg%
• #6-8.2 assists per game
• #8-6 double-doubles
• #2-2 double-doubles
• #15-9.8 rebounds per game
• #38-18.0 points per game
• #4-13.1 points in the paint per game
• #6-32 3fgm
• #13-49.2 3fg%