Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons gave Philadelphia an opportunity to do something that has rarely presented itself over the past two seasons: draw up a play for the win/tie. The Sixers were down by three, 100-97, with just 15.6 seconds on the clock, and Brett Brown called a play to try and send the game into overtime.
The rest is history.
Brown's play was drawn up really well, with the goal being to clear out the near side baseline for an open three-point attempt for Hollis Thompson. Brandon Jennings follow Michael Carter-Williams as he aimlessly wanders around the perimeter. Thompson sets a pick on Josh Smith not only to help free Mbah a Moute (who is also a diversion), but to try and force Detroit to switch defensively. If Singler switches onto Mbah a Moute, Thompson basically has a free run to the corner. But Singler stayed pressed to Thompson, which led into the last wrinkle of the play. Once Thompson rounds the corner, Noel is supposed to set a pick on Singler to completely free up his teammate. Noel basically whiffs at Singler, but he sets him enough off course to give Thompson the chance to turn and shoot.
The execution was fair, but overall a great play drawn up by Brown to help send Philly on the way to their second win of the season.
A lot of what the Sixers do on both sides of the ball comes across as arbitrary, which seems to reflect poorly on Brown himself. But when given the chance to be a tactician, the second-year head coach is doing a decent job. With a little help from Synergy Sports, Deadspin compiled a list of teams that are most effective out of timeouts. Philadelphia posted 77.9 points per 100 half court possessions, and 77.6 points per 100 half court possessions after timeouts. Their offensive numbers were going to be atrocious no matter what, but Philadelphia is ninth best in the NBA in net rating. For most teams, there is a pretty big disparity between the amount of points they score in regular sets and after timeouts, making Philadelphia's numbers almost impressive. They showed a little potential last season with real NBA-caliber players in after timeout possessions as well, which I wrote about some of the great plays Brown was drawing up.
Defensively, Philadelphia is 10th with 82.7 points allowed per 100 half court possessions after timeouts, but fifth in net rating. Philadelphia has certainly improved that from last season, when they were averaging 91.3 points after timeouts. He hasn't been able to show it often, but when Brown does run certain sets, the Sixers have been relatively good. Expect Brown to showcase that ability when he isn't running a team full of rag-tags.