Sixers’ Dwight Howard using Buccaneers as inspiration after dominant Super Bowl
Philadelphia 76ers center Dwight Howard is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Naturally, the Sixers’ big man took something from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ stifling defensive performance in Super Bowl LV.
Dwight Howard said Monday he and the rest of his Sixers teammates are feeling motivated to play better defense after watching the Bucs keep Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in check.
Dwight Howard says the Buccaneers defense last night inspired the #Sixers to want to play better defense. He was impressed with how they held down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
— Ky Carlin (@Ky_Carlin) February 8, 2021
Philly has a pretty stout defense. Doc Rivers’ team ranks 10th in defensive scoring average, but the Sixers also rank fourth in defensive rating.
More notably, the Sixers have a roster full of defensive playmakers. Ben Simmons is a big and physical guy on the perimeter, and both Dwight Howard and Joel Embiid lurk inside as rim protectors. Philly ranks third in steals and first in blocks, constantly forcing opposing offenses to work hard for quality offensive opportunities.
However, the Sixers have been a bit lackluster on that end, as Dwight Howard knows and is acutely aware of. Philly gave up at least 110 points in all three games prior to Saturday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets. That included a 121-105 blowout loss to a Portland Trail Blazers team without Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. The Sixers also gave up 108 points to the Nets on Saturday despite Brooklyn missing both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
But the scoring has been present while Dwight Howard has tried to improve his defense. Joel Embiid has scored 30-plus points in each of the last three games, and the Sixers continue to get valuable offensive contributions from Tobias Harris.
Still, Dwight Howard and his teammates are determined to get things squared away defensively, and they will attempt to draw something from the Bucs’ Super Bowl performance. Given how complete a game the Buccaneers played, it’s a great example to draw from.