'THIS IS reality."
Those were the words of 76ers coach Brett Brown following his team's 127-97 thumping at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. While the two organizations are headed in polar-opposite directions at the moment there were some frightening realizations brought to light in the 48 minutes of preseason action in front of what couldn't have been more than a few thousand spectators.
While the Nets and owner Mikhail Prokhorov have gone all-in and broken the bank in order to try to capture a title the Sixers are fielding a team that is very short on NBA-proven players. Still the disparity in the talent level was eye-opening. And this was a Brooklyn team that was without Paul Pierce Deron Williams Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry. And Kevin Garnett played under 15 minutes.
The Sixers' most glaring weakness was the interior game. If you just look at the numbers you'll see that Brooklyn outscored the Sixers by only 44-38 in the paint but that doesn't come close to defining the advantage the Nets had there.
Brook Lopez and Garnett could do whatever they wanted offensively in the lane against Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes. That isn't a knock on the Sixers' players just as Brown pointed out the reality. For all of his valiant effort and endless activity Young is simply out of position trying to match up defensively against the true power forwards of the league. And Hawes is probably better off trying to match up against power forwards than battling true centers. Think of it as a pitching staff in baseball. Neither Young nor Hawes is a No. 1 pitcher but they are forced to be aces at their positions.
When Brown went to his bench Lavoy Allen was the first big to enter a position he was expected to fill this season. It should have been familiar territory for Allen who basically ensured himself a 2-year deal after an impressive defensive performance against Garnett and the Boston Celtics in the 2012 postseason.
But Allen missed 2 months of summer workouts after tweaking a knee and appears to be a few weeks away as far as conditioning and timing. He was a defensive afterthought for Lopez who scored at will against him. It isn't an overreaction to say that if Allen doesn't bust it in the next couple of weeks to get himself ready for the Oct. 30 opener it could very well be a lost season for him.
With Nerlens Noel out for another few months Arnett Moultrie gone for at least that long and Kwame Brown primed to be bought out that leaves few options for paint help. Which turns the focus to Royce White. That's right Royce White.
While the anxiety disorder from which he suffers will go a long way in determining how many games he will play there is intrigue in his game and a possibility that he could turn out to be a good get for the Sixers. Right now he is out of shape and his timing rivals that of a middle-aged weekend baller. But Brown has said that he sees the strength in the 6-9 265-pound frame that could battle centers down low. You can see the athleticism White possesses in the way he catches a ball dribbles and displays footwork. While his above-average passing and dribbling might be a bit away from being honed he certainly can use his rebounding skills to help the team now.
'THIS IS reality."