Philadelphia 76ers Stat Monkey Brief: Sixers/Bobcats (11/30/12)

If the Sixers are to drop the Bobcats below .500, Brett Weisband says that pace and free throws could be the two big keys.

Don’t lie - you didn’t see this coming. No one who has watched a minute of basketball last season would have ever guessed that the Charlotte Bobcats would, 14 games into the 2012-13 season, be sitting at .500. Our own Keith Goldner had them pegged for 18.5 wins in the preseason, and they’re already more than a third of the way to that total.

Coming off of literally the worst season in NBA history - their .106 winning percentage worsened the record set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers - most people are probably wondering the same thing: How in the world is Charlotte winning? And, for our purposes what do the Sixers need to do to come out on top?

Pushing the pace

In order to make up for their lack of talent when it comes to scoring the ball, the Bobcats have been running. In their wins, Charlotte’s average pace has been 92.8 compared to 91.7 in losses. That’s the difference between being the seventh fastest team and the 17th fastest team in the league. This poses no problem for the Sixers, as they’ve shown to be comfortable playing at any pace.

As we’ve touched on her before, Philadelphia has proven itself adept at quickening their pace to play with up-tempo teams. If the Sixers are able to play their customary slower, grind-it-out game, the Bobcats might not have the scoring punch to make up for it.

Despite their high ranking in the pace stat, the Bobcats are still one of the worst offensive teams in the league. They score only 99.6 points per 100 possessions, good for only 27th. Their effective field goal percentage ranks even lower; when adjusting for three-point tries, the Cats’ eFG% is only 44.3.

Getting to the line

Despite their poor shooting from the field, Charlotte gets to the line quite a bit. They’re 10th in the league in attempts, eighth in makes and seventh in free throws per field goal attempted (.240). That’s quite a jump from their season to forget, when they ranked 16th, 14th and 16th, respectively, in those categories. Kemba Walker has upped his free throw attempts significantly in his second year, and offseason acquisition Ramon Sessions has been more aggressive than ever in earning himself 6.6 free throw attempts per game.

The Sixers, on the other hand, have been in the top third of the league in FT/FGA allowed this season, with a ratio of .201. While three of the four Sixers’ bigs average more than 3.5 fouls per 36 minutes, Philly’s perimeter guys have been great at avoiding silly fouls. None of their guards or swing men that play more than 15 minutes a game are averaging more than 2.7 fouls per 36.