Brett Brown is very aware of the problem. And it eats away at him just like it does to you.
To say the Sixers have an issue with turnovers is a severe understatement. There are teams in your local rec league that have better ball security.
In Brown’s four full seasons as head coach of the Sixers, the team finished 30th, 30th, 29th and 30th in turnovers per game. The trend has continued so far this season, as the squad again ranks dead last with a staggering 18.2 turnovers a night.
For a coach that comes from the Spurs’ system under Gregg Popovich where taking care of the basketball is a premium, it’s mind-boggling Brown hasn’t been able to get a handle on the dilemma.
“We’ve got to clean up on it,” Brown said after the Sixers committed 23 turnovers in Thursday’s 114-109 loss to the Raptors (see observations). “You go back, and without getting into too much coach speak, we can identify who and where and when turnovers happen. There are actually breakdowns of what’s this team like in half-court. If the game were just a half-court sport, what do they do? What do they do when it’s an early offense, like the first six seconds of a shot clock? What do they do underneath? What do they do on the side?
“We feel clear we know where the problem lies, but in general, it lies with us and I’m the head coach, and we’ve got to fix it.”
As time has proven over the years, that’s easier said than done. Mainly because the Sixers don’t just commit the expected miscues.
A team is bound to have a player dribble the ball out of bounds off his foot or have an errant pass go off the fingertips into the crowd throughout the course of an NBA game. The trouble comes in with the dreaded live-ball turnovers that tend to lead to points the other way.
The Sixers are 28th in the league in opponents’ points off turnovers with an average of 19.5 per game. That number jumped up to 32 against the Raptors as the team blew a 22-point lead in another crushing defeat.
Dario Saric said of the struggles, “It’s on us as players to fix it.” However, Brown didn’t want to make any excuses and put the onus on himself to figure out a solution.
“Some of that is easy to blame — we play fast … some of our guys are young. Most of them aren’t anymore,” Brown said. “I think when we really critically assess the turnovers, let’s dig deep and understand who, why and when and the world becomes a little bit cleaner.
“It is something we can talk about, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to fix it. I’m the head coach. It is on me, and it keeps us up late at night.”