SIXERS' CENTER OF ATTENTION SHOULD BE GETTING PRODUCTION OUT OF KWAME BROWN, LAVOY ALLEN
First on that list is playing time. After that, it all kind of blends together: a bum shoulder, a once-torn pec muscle, a strained calf, and a recently tweaked knee.
Brown, who's rode the bench for more minutes than he's played this month, earned his third straight start in Tuesday's loss at Dallas. Wednesday here in Houston, Brown figures to start again. He said he's earned. His numbers indicate he hasn't.
“It's tough to sit 12 games and then come out and start. Nothing prepares you for the game like the game,” Brown said the other day. “I've done the treadmill, weight-lifting and running. I'm getting there. The more game experience I get will be better for me and for the team down the road.”
The Sixers are in a rut. They've lost four in a row for the first time this season, and it's because they've been unable to score the way coach Doug Collins would like.
Because they don't have Andrew Bynum, they can't play out of the half-court because it doesn't free up nearly enough 3-point opportunities. They also can't play out of the post, either, with Brown and Lavoy Allen teaming to post offensively anemic numbers out of the center spot. The Sixers were outscored in the paint, 16-2, in the first quarter at Dallas and never recovered from it.
Here's what the Sixers are getting out of their starting centers: An average of 21.7 minutes, 5.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and less than a steal, a block and an assist per game.
That's not good, by the way.
By comparison, Bynum averaged 35.2 minutes, 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game last season, when he was healthy. This season, some of the league's most-dominant centers are posting similar numbers. The Lakers' Dwight Howard is averaging 36.7/18.1/12.2; the Cavaliers' Anderson Varejao is averaging 36.0/14.1/14.4; and the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph is averaging 36.2/17.2/12.7.
The production – if you want to call it that – the Sixers are getting from their centers is not even in the same realm.
Allen's been a shadow of the guy who turned heads as a rookie in the postseason a year ago, upstaging Boston's Kevin Garnett at times. Allen got five minutes in end-of-the-quarter scenarios against the Mavericks. And in Brown, the Sixers weren't counting on much from the 12-year veteran. They expected him to play solid defense and rebound. And, for the most part, he's done that. Brown had seven boards against the Mavs, and seems to take pride in his defending.
“I can do whatever they need me to do. I'll figure it out,” Brown said. “I've played long enough. I'm not going to let a guy beat me. If you take it personally, you'll figure something out.”
The Sixers have to figure out what they can do to generate offense in the paint until Bynum returns, because Brown and Allen simply aren't cutting it.