The Sixers gained a reputation as a young, athletic team that liked to get up and down the floor last season, but the numbers don’t exactly back up that perception. In fact, they were one of the slowest teams in the league in terms of pace (the number of possessions a team gets in a game) in addition to being one of the leagues least efficient offenses (measured in Points Per Possession). After jettisoning two of their primary ball handlers in the off-season and bringing in Andrew Bynum, it still remains unseen just how the Sixers offense will change.
This past weekend was one of contrasts for the Sixers. On Friday, going against one of the league’s best defenses in Boston, the Sixers cranked the pace up to 95.2 possessions per 48 minutes, significantly above their season mark of 91. It worked magic for coach Doug Collins’ crew, as they controlled much of the game before escaping with a 106-100 win and a little bit of vengeance for how last season ended. Along with the faster pace, the Sixers also notched one of their most efficient games of the season in terms of effective field goal percentage, while their offensive rating was off the charts (for this team, at least).
In Toronto the next night, the Sixers slammed on the breaks, with the pace dropping to 88.5. The results in terms of efficiency - and in the win column - were pretty similar. They turned the ball over on a smaller percentage of possessions while playing the slower pace, but shot slightly better when pushing the ball up the court a little more.
Two wildly different games in a weekend back-to-back aren’t the best indicator of what the Sixers’ preferred style of play will be, and we certainly won’t know what this team will really look like until Bynum finds a way to get onto the court. But should the Sixers continue to find ways to play efficiently and win slowed-down games, like they did against the Raptors and as they did often last year, playing against teams like Milwaukee should be where this team fattens its record.