Turns out the Sixers' zone defense can be a game changer when they need it

The 76ers were already making a run, having scored six consecutive points but trailing by 104-94 with 6 minutes and 38 seconds remaining to the Indiana Pacers, when coach Doc Rivers pulled out a secret weapon: a swarming 2-3 zone defense.

Sure, the Sixers had just beaten the defending NBA-champion Los Angeles Lakers, 107-106, on Wednesday , but they faced many more obstacles against the Pacers.

Joel Embiid missed the game because of back tightness, and the Sixers trailed by as many as 20 points late in the third quarter.

“We weren’t able to get good shots [against the zone],” said Malcolm Brogdon, who led the Pacers with 25 points, but scored only one in the fourth quarter.

“With those two guys [Thybulle and Simmons] and with Dwight’s size in the middle of the paint, plugging things up, it gives you a chance to be pretty effective,” Rivers said.

Last season, the Sixers suffered their only two home losses when they were stymied by zone defenses in consecutive defeats against Miami and Dallas.

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