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Five Figures: Sixers’ defense earns win over Jazz

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Five statistics that tell the story of the Philadelphia 76ers’ win over the Utah Jazz.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

0.903 points per possession (per Cleaning The Glass)

The big losers from last night’s game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Utah Jazz were lovers of offense. The contest was the NBA’s equivalent of late-December NFL game in Buffalo, New York that ends with a score of 9-3. But while both team’s defensive effort was commendable, the Sixers were superior on that end, holding the Jazz to just 0.903 points per possession. Utah certainly helped the Sixers out a bit, hitting just 5 threes. But the Sixers physically drained the Jazz, with the players of the latter looking like they might benefit from a stop at Penn on the way out of town for an IV. The Jazz were able to grab just 5 offensive boards, making 2nd chances hard to come by, compounding their poor shooting.

19 turnovers

The Jazz actually shot the ball slightly more efficiently than the Sixers (50.0% vs. 48.9% eFG%) and their free throws made and attempted were both just three less than those of the Sixers. So how did they end up scoring at a rate less than a point per possession, ultimately losing the game by 9 points? The Sixers forced the Jazz to make a ton of errors on offense, Utah turning the ball over 19 times with 12 of those coming off of Sixers’ steals. Matisse Thybulle and Ben Simmons produced over half of those 12 team steals, combining for 7 steals between the two.

50.0% 3PT shooting

The Sixers did not score efficiently against the Jazz. Philly converted at the rim at the abysmal rate of 46.4% and connected on just 69.6% of their free throws. They did, however, make the most of their high-value attempts, hitting 50.0% of their three-pointers, producing 39 points in total. Al Horford and Matisse Thybulle were both perfect from deep, each with a trio of threes. You’d still like to see the volume increase, with the Sixers finishing with just 26 3PA (for comparison, the San Antonio Spurs average the least amount of 3PA per game at 25.7). Excluding Horford’s contributions, the Sixers starters made just 3 triples. But with a defensive bout like last night, the Sixers needed to find an offensive advantage somewhere and they did so outside the arc.

4 steals

The Ben Simmons All-Defensive team PR tour is full bore as Simmons has very noticeably improved his effort and impact on the defensive end, especially over the last month or so of the season. It’s not that we haven’t seen flashes before, it’s the consistency with which Ben is delivering. Against the Jazz, Simmons registered 4 steals and after all but one, he successfully pushed the ball in transition eventually producing 8 points in total for the Sixers. It was his 12th multi-steal game of the season and 17th game in which he’s registered at least one steal. He’s totaled at least 4 steals in a single game five times this season and twice had 7 in a single game. With that information, it should come as no surprise that his 46 thefts on the season pace the NBA.

71.4% 3PT shooting

Shout out to Liberty Ballers community member CorneliusIngraham for pointing this stat out in yesterday’s Bell Ringer thread: Matisse Thybulle is shooting 71.4% from three over his last 9 games and 77.8% over his last 4 games. Matisse’s long range shooting percentage has to come back down to Earth sooner or later, and it’s not as if his volume has ballooned along with his percentage (over the aforementioned 9-game stretch, he’s totaled at least 3 3PA in a game just twice). But the prospects of Matisse improving as a threat from deep should have Sixers fans feeling giddy. He’s played more within himself on both ends of the floor lately and as a result, he looks much more comfortable picking his spots offensively. Thybulle has been granted an uptick in minutes with Josh Richardson sidelined. But if this keeps up, even when Richardson returns, Brett Brown should be happy to give Thybulle the 20-minute outings of recent rather than the 10/15-minute role the rookie saw in the first half of November.

All stats are courtesy of NBA.com unless otherwise noted.