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Die By The Three: Raptors 108, Sixers 98

Toronto rained down a bunch of shots from distance on the Sixers, which isn't exactly a new phenomenon.

Spencer Hawes was excellent in a game most of the Sixers weren't.
Spencer Hawes was excellent in a game most of the Sixers weren't.
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

As described here, there are two parts of three-point defense. The first, and often more telling number, is the amount of three-point attempts that a defense surrenders to their opponents. Of course, that number isn't generally how three-point defense is described by the average basketball fan. Usually, the second part is cited, what percentage of those attempts that the opponent makes.

Early in the 2013-14 season, the Sixers are really pushing the envelope in both aspects of three-point defense. After another abysmal performance defending the arc — one in which the Toronto Raptors shot an absurd 14-29 from three-point range en route to 108-98 win — Brett Brown and his coaching staff might want to change a few things up.

I'll leave it to someone else to talk about the Sixers three-point defense in a historic perspective, but consider this: Last season, the Golden State Warriors surrendered the most three-point attempts in the NBA, with 1896. Currently, the Sixers are on pace to surrender an astonishing 2435 threes. It's still pretty early in the season, but that's a ton of threes.

What's even worse is that this ridiculously high number of attempts isn't the product of stout defense. No, the Sixers are packing the paint to an alarming degree, leaving their opponents wide open to tee up three-ball after three-ball. On the season, the Sixers are yielding an incredible 40 percent on all of those attempts, which is the worst mark in the league.They're getting absolutely blasted from behind the arc, my friends.

Conspiracy theorists might surmise the three-point defense as some sort of elaborate tanking plan, and who knows? They might be right. Personally, I think it's the product of an over-aggressive defensive scheme comprised of a bunch of poor rotational defenders. Whatever it is, it's not good. Or is it?

Here are some other scattered thoughts from tonight's game:

  • Again, Spencer Hawes was tremendous shooting the ball, submitting a Hardenesque efficiency of 28 points on 13 shots. Honestly, it was too bad that Hawes missed a chippy off a nice pass from Michael Carter-Williams late in the game, because it prevented himself from reaching 30. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised to be typing these words, but Hawes has clearly been the team's best player so far this season. In addition to his shooting, Hawes is also cleaning the defensive glass at a career-high level. We'll see if that number holds.
  • At this point, I think the Sixers would have to receive at least a late first round pick in any Hawes-centric deal. It's amazing how much more valuable he'd be to a contender. Sure, Hawes' game has been picked apart a lot during his three-plus years in Philadelphia, but that's when he was viewed through the prism of "Spencer Hawes: Starting Center." Now, as he's developed into a viable three-point shooter, contending teams are looking at him through the prism of "Spencer Hawes: Rotational Big That Can Also Make Threes." Not many players on the trading block have the ability to rebound, block a few shots, and stretch the floor like Hawes can. A team like the Clippers could really use a player of his caliber to add to the playoff rotation.
  • Carter-Williams and Evan Turner both submitted really poor performances. MCW now has to adjust to teams trying to make him a scorer of the pick and roll. He turned the ball over six times tonight as Toronto did a nice job mixing up their coverages. Part of Carter-Williams' struggles were surely rust, as this was his first night back after sitting out four games in a row. Still, he's fallen back to Earth quite a bit since being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week right out of the gate. How Carter-Williams responds to adversity and and makes adjustments will be primarily what everyone is monitoring the rest of the year.
  • Turner might've been worse than MCW, getting his shot blocked at least four times and going cold from mid-range. Take a look at these numbers detailing Turner's regression, courtesy of my friend Brian, who is an excellent writer:
  • Lorenzo Brown. What more can you say? A star is born.
  • In all seriousness, I was stunned that the Sixers were able to get Brown and Elliot Williams on the floor so quickly. It reminded me a little bit of when a baseball player is called up from AAA, makes it to the ballpark around the fifth inning, and is called into pinch-hit late in the game. Obviously, those two players were here for a longer time than that, but the Sixers didn't announce their new acquisitions until only a couple of hours before tip-off. That minor detail obviously didn't stop Brett Brown from throwing them both right into the fire.
  • Finally, I think it's fair to say that the Sixers have safely entered the realm of becoming an objectively bad basketball team. I would suspect that there will be plenty of nights like this in the upcoming months, ones that Brett Brown aptly described as "painful." Tonight is what rebuilding looks like, folks.