'A .500 Ball Club'

We've spent countless blog posts and comments discussing pick-and-roll defense, defensive rotations, mid-post vs. low-post, and many other x's-and-o's breakdown of each 76ers game.

And there have been 14 of them, the latest of which was tonight's (or is it last night's?) 93-84 loss at the Charlotte Bobcats. We could break down the numbers and the x's and o's again ... No, the Sixers didn't defend the pick-and-roll well. Yes, the Bobcat shooters were left open on the defensive rotation. No, the Sixers couldn't make an outside shot.

But I don't know what answer we've gotten from the numbers yet. It seems the Sixers' problems have less to do with some specific mechanical adjustment and more to do with a non-existent flow and rhythm within this team.

Beginning with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Sixers played five teams they should have beaten. They finished 3-2, including a one-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers at home. The Sixers next two games are against the Orlando Magic and the defending NBA Champions, the Boston Celtics.

Here's what Elton Brand had to say about that: "We're not looking at records. We can't look at records. You look at Minnesota's record and Charlotte's record and you say we should win. You look at the records of the teams coming up and you say we should lose."

And Willie Green: "We have games like today we expected to win on paper. When we can be consistent enough to come into arenas and get wins, we'll be a better team. Until then we'll be what we are ... .500 ... We want to take the positives out of every situation. These are crucial games for us coming up, but we took a step back tonight."

More from Elton Brand (when asked how things are going so far in Philly): "It's going ok. We're a .500 ball club. We expected to be better than that. And we will be better than that."

The lingering question that arises is, "When?"

I don't claim to know the answer. I know I've watched the Sixers for stretches and thought, "There it is." And then a few minutes later wondered, "Where'd it go?"

So for this one post, I'm not going to dissect the offensive flow through Brand, or analyze Andre Iguodala's footwork on his outside shot, or wonder if a different rotation might have been better in a certain situation.

After the game, Cheeks spoke at length about how the biggest problem tonight was stopping the pick-and-roll at the point of attack. And so I asked Samuel Dalembert about defending the pick-and-roll because I wanted to understand where the breakdown was occuring. Was it the post player not showing hard enough? Was it the guard being lazy getting through the screen? Was it neither, but rather the rotational defender not taking away the outlet pass?

But Dalembert kept shaking his head.

"It's not one specific thing," he said. "It's the communication as a whole. Even if it's not the exact way we drew it up, if we communicated, we could make it work."