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Film study: How the Sixers contained Kemba Walker

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Saturday night was a substandard outing for the Charlotte Hornets star. How did Philadelphia do it?

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Through seven games, there haven’t been many players off to a more torrid start than Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker. The 6-foot-1 All-Star is averaging 31.7 points (third in the NBA) on .466/.405/.851 shooting splits, making the Hornets must-watch action whenever he’s on the court.

Prior to his outing Saturday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, though, those numbers looked even rosier to the tune of 30.8 points per game on a .492/.453/.849 slash line. The Sixers limited him to 37 points on 11-of-31 shooting (3 of 15 beyond the arc) and a 49.8 true shooting percentage, proving not all 37-point outings are created equally.

Part of that was luck and regression. Walker entered the contest 18 of 43 (41.9 percent) on pull-up 3-pointers this season, but was 0 of 10 against Philadelphia. Last year, Walker shot 38.1 percent (141 of 370) on pull-up triples. Additionally, he was just 3 of 9 on 3-pointers deemed “open” (4-6 feet of space) and “wide open” (6-plus feet of space), per NBA.com. For reference, he shot 39.9 percent on those attempts in 2017-18. So, the Sixers were the beneficiaries of some fortune.

But the Sixers were also able to unsettle Walker, throwing waves of length and size his way. They tabbed Robert Covington as the primary defender on Walker and the sixth-year wing showcased his All-Defensive First Team credentials, using his 7-foot-2 wingspan to induce tough shots all evening long.

When Walker drove the lane, defenders were quick to collapse inside and cut off his avenues to the rim or alter attempts inside.

Overall, it was a strong defensive effort by the Sixers on one of the league’s top scorers. For an even more in-depth look as to how Philadelphia contained the jitterbug that is Walker, check out my Twitter moment.