Examining Sixers Rebounding Woes in Opener

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

In their season opening loss to Washington, the Sixers did a lot of things to warrant winning the game, including out-shooting the Wizards from the field (45.7% to 43.3%). However, Washington had more opportunities at the basket, both because they won the turnover battle and because they did a better job competing on the glass. The Sixers ended the night with a poor 69.8% defensive rebounding percentage, allowing the Wizards to collect 16 offensive rebounds. In particular, Philadelphia had difficulty with Marcin Gortat, as the Polish Hammer collected 5 O-boards by himself.

Walling off the defensive glass is clearly an area where the Sixers will have to perform better going forward; a 69.8 DREB% isn’t going to cut it. For reference, last season, the Knicks were worst in the league at 74.1%. I took a look at each offensive rebound and tried to determine who was at fault in each instance, providing video for some particularly poor jobs in rebounding.

  1. Bradley Beal (1st quarter) – J.J. Redick goes toward the rim rather than getting a body on his man. A long rebound caroms out to Beal. At fault: Redick

2. Otto Porter, Jr. (1Q) – Robert Covington and Ben Simmons are both under the basket following a Beal miss. Porter rushed in and poked at it from behind Covington, eventually collecting the ball as Covington gets called for the foul. At fault: Covington

3. Jason Smith (1Q) – Smith never even controls the ball before it’s knocked out of his hand and Embiid corrals it. I’m not going to assign blame to anyone here as the Sixers weren’t negatively impacted.

4. Marcin Gortat (1Q) – Gortat banged a jumper off the front iron and it ricocheted back out to him. Joel Embiid turned and went toward the rim rather than boxing out the shooter. At fault: Embiid

5. Marcin Gortat (2Q) – Gortat pushes Amir Johnson down too far under the basket, enabling Gortat to pull the vintage Tyson Chandler move and bat the ball out to a teammate. At fault: Johnson

6. Otto Porter, Jr. (3Q) – Porter poked at the ball and it deflected off the rim before Robert Covington was able to collect it. I’m not sure this play was really an issue, so I’m not assigning any fault.

7. John Wall (3Q) – This was a play where about 6 people were fighting for the ball under the basket and Amir Johnson happened to deflect it outside the arc to Wall. This was a scrum and it wouldn’t be fair to blame any one player.

8. Marcin Gortat (3Q) – Amir Johnson had a box-out on Gortat, but a long John Wall three led to an even longer rebound, which Gortat tracked down in the corner. This play was more bad luck than anything.

9. Marcin Gortat (3Q) – This was a tip-in attempt by Gortat off a Wizards miss in the pick-and-roll. Amir Johnson had helped contest the shot at the rim, so it’s likely Robert Covington’s responsibility to wall off Gortat after the switch. At fault: Covington, but tough play to make

10. John Wall (3Q) – As he often does, Wall is going a million miles per hour in transition. TJ McConnell does enough to get in front of Wall and force a miss, but his momentum keeps him backpedaling under the basket, allowing Wall to tip in his own miss. At fault: McConnell, but nearly impossible to stop Wall in the open court

11. Ian Mahinmi (3Q) – A Jodie Meeks jumper catches nothing but iron, and the ball deflects past Joel Embiid into the waiting arms of Mahinmi. At fault: Embiid

12. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (4Q) – Robert Covington got caught watching an Otto Porter three and completely forgot about his man Oubre in the corner. Oubre cut in along the baseline and almost jammed home the rebound. At fault: Covington

13. Ian Mahinmi (4Q) – In a continuation of the play above, Dario Saric reached out for the ball and would have had it if not for the cutting Oubre. After Oubre’s putback attempt missed, the ball bounced to Mahinmi, who put it in the basket. At fault: Saric technically, but really still Covington’s fault for this entire sequence

14. Bradley Beal (4Q) – A loose ball following a Wall miss deflects off about 6 different players before Beal picks it off the floor along the baseline. Everybody was hustling here.

15. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (4Q) – Here, Oubre succeeded in his massive dunk attempt. In a show of poor team rotation, Ben Simmons left his man, Porter, to gravitate under the hoop. When the shot went up, he put a body on Gortat. TLC shifted over to box out Porter, leaving Oubre completely unchecked along the baseline. All this trouble on the weakside started because Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz did not do a good job defending the pick-and-roll. Guys were trying here, it was a tough sequence. Maybe blame falls to Saric for getting pump-faked in the first play, leading to the shot. Hard to say.

16. Marcin Gortat (4Q) – Gortat tipped in a missed shot from Wall. Embiid went too far off his man, feinting at the help on Wall; Gortat took advantage to cut under and establish prime rebounding position. At fault: Embiid

Ironically, it was the two Sixers who you would consider the team’s best defensive players, Covington and Embiid, who showed up a few times each for poor effort or technique on the glass. As a team, Philadelphia could certainly clean up the instances where guys completely left their men. Friday’s opponent, Boston, was 25th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage (21.2%) last season and is at only 20.0% in their first two games. By just eliminating egregious mistakes, the Sixers shouldn’t have as much of a problem in this area against the Celtics.


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