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Defense optional: Sixers fall to Thunder 133-114 as concerns over perimeter defense persist

Another disappointing effort on defense leads to a 133-114 loss to the Thunder, and more concerns about the team's ability to defend the perimeter.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In today's newsletter:

  • About last night's 133-114 loss.
  • The major takeaway.
  • The turning point.
  • Top performances.
  • Key stats.
  • Stray thoughts.
  • Quotes.
  • Link roundup.
On last night's 133-114 loss

Box score

The key takeaway

"They just lived in the paint. They got whatever they wanted."

That was Sixers head coach Doc Rivers after the game, and while he had no answers on how to stop it while the game was unfolding, he was absolutely correct with his assessment.

By NBA standards, the Sixers are a relatively slow-footed team to begin with. Outside of De'Anthony Melton their only real plus lateral athletes are Tyrese Maxey (who is short and dies on screens), Matisse Thybulle (who is playing a career-low 11.9 minutes per game), Paul Reed (who is largely out of the rotation) and Jaden Springer, who is probably somewhere on I95 as we speak.

That problem looks especially pronounced when they play a young energetic team, like they did the Thunder last night.

But what really made last night tough to watch was how they compounded their weakness coming in with some real head scratching decisions, such as treating Oklahoma City's bad 3-point shooters like they're Steph Curry, opening up driving lanes that Philadelphia's help defenders were either incapable of, or uninterested in, stopping.

Some of these were misses, but with the Sixers' lack of attention to detail being very obvious in the first few minutes of the game, you could tell right from the  jump that they were unserious about last night's game.

There will be games like this and one night doesn't define a team and they're 25-16 and a top-5 defense and yada yada yada. I'll get into that in a midway point column. But they've played two real games in the last week and have looked incompetent defensively in both of them, and a lot of that stems from the Sixers' inability to stop dribble penetration.

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