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The numbers behind the Sixers' defensive turnaround

The Philadelphia 76ers had the league's top-ranked defense in November. I took a look at some of the stats driving their improved defensive play and tried to figure out which were sustainable now that Harden and Maxey are close to returning.

In November the Philadelphia 76ers had the league's best defense, allowing opponents to score an average of just 106.4 points per 100 possessions, a number which would have been even more impressive if not for the 113-85 beat-down the Sixers suffered at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers to close out the month.

That defense propelled the Sixers to an 8-6 record, helping them overcome the fact that Joel Embiid (missed six games), Tyrese Maxey (seven) and James Harden (13) all missed significant time.

That is quite the turnaround for a team that gave up 112.8 points per 100 in the first eight games of the season, coming in with just the 19th ranked defense prior to the November turnaround. Those struggles led a lot of us, myself included, to wonder what the heck was going on, as the Sixers were largely (again, myself included) expected to be one of the better defensive teams in the league.

So, what changed? What's driving the turnaround? What are the key takeaways? And, most importantly, how much of it is sustainable?

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