Fri. Dec 6th, 2019

Philly’s Top Five

What Makes Philly, "Philly"

Brett Brown happy to begin implementing zone defense with Sixers

3 min read

The Philadelphia 76ers are built to be one of the best defensive teams in the league as they plan to chase an NBA title in the 2019-20 season. To be a great defensive team, you have to have the personnel and the will, but you also have to be willing to switch up your defensive schemes.

Coach Brett Brown has implemented a zone defense in recent games to take advantage of how long his team is and to also limit the opposition’s three-point attempts. The zone defense will never be Brown’s go-to defensive scheme, and they most certainly will not use it on Thursday against the Washington Wizards, but it could come in handy down the road now that he has begun to implement it.

“I think that they’re infrequent and I think that they have been good,” Brown said. “I’m glad that we have it in our package. You’re always wondering ‘What are you going to need in the playoffs?’ You recognize quickly that it ain’t for everybody. For instance, I wouldn’t even consider it against Washington, but I’m glad that we implemented it.”

The Sixers have big defensive impact players on their team led by Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson out on the perimeter and Joel Embiid and Al Horford down low. Any scheme that Brown can come up with should be able to be executed well by the team they have constructed.

“We’ve tried it enough, we have a little bit of a sample size, you can actually coach it, and understand rotations,” the coach continued. “They have a little bit better idea like ‘This is my coverage area. Are we bumping here? Are we going to stay?’ and so on. So I think the small dose has been good enough for me to feel two things: glad that we did it and excited to persevere with it.”

The zone defense is not a popular scheme in the NBA as the man-to-man defense is the more popular way to go, but sending a zone defense can really confuse an opponent midgame. It is an adjustment that Brown and the Sixers can have in their back pocket if things aren’t going their way.

The Wizards are one of the best offensive teams in the league as they are fourth in offensive rating at 113.0 and they are third in the league in scoring at 118.9 points per game. On the flip side, Philadelphia fourth in the league in defensive rating at 103.0 so something will have to give on Thursday.

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