76ers

Brett Brown gets 'fiery' at halftime, sparks Sixers' historic 3rd quarter in Game 2 win over Nets

Brett Brown gets 'fiery' at halftime, sparks Sixers' historic 3rd quarter in Game 2 win over Nets

The scene at halftime in the Sixers’ locker room Monday night was intense, the language was unvarnished and the message was impossible to misconstrue. 

“Coach really got into us,” Tobias Harris said after the Sixers’ 145-123 win in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Nets (see observations). “It was fiery.”

Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott and James Ennis all said it was the angriest they’d seen Brown since joining the Sixers.

“It was great,” Scott said. “We needed to hear it. Some lazy plays defensively, myself included. Yeah, man, get them off the three-point line. I think that third quarter we came out and played hard defensively.”

Brooklyn, down just one point at halftime after shooting 10 for 23 from three-point range, went 0 for 6 from beyond the arc in the third quarter. The Sixers scored 51 points in the period, tied for the most in a quarter in NBA playoff history, and held the Nets to 23. After a Game 1 in which just about everything that could have went wrong did, the Sixers could do no wrong in the third.

Jimmy Butler, not one to shy away from confrontation, was a wholehearted supporter of Brown’s approach.

“OK, Brett, I see you,” Butler said with a grin. “Yeah, he came in here and said a few cuss words. Shocked me a little bit, to tell you truth. But I like it. That’s that type of energy I love. Just make sure everybody did their job, letting them know you can’t have it — it’s not winning basketball. And we came out here and did what we were supposed to do.”

Brown couldn’t have asked for a better response to his fire.

“I thought that defensively, the way the team came out and responded to some first-half stuff that I thought we needed to fix, was a fantastic statement,” he said.

The Sixers evidently needed a reminder that long twos, not open threes, are “the sword they’re willing to die on,” as Brown is fond of saying — that’s the tactical element of Brown’s message. But, judging by his players’ reactions, you sense what Brown had to say was much less about strategy than effort and accountability. 

“I love that s---,” Butler said. “I love when people get cussed at, yelled at and say, you know, ‘You can’t do that, it’s your fault.’ I’m all for it.” 

Speaking before the game about Joel Embiid’s sore left knee and the concern over whether his star center would play, Brown said, “I’m numb to it.” He understood how much the Sixers’ fate revolved around Embiid’s availability, but, with Embiid’s health a recurring question, the situation didn’t especially perturb him.

Brown’s anger, though, is not something the Sixers are numb to. He saved his fire for a fitting occasion, with his team playing well below its potential and possibly sliding toward a 2-0 deficit to a less talented team.

“That’s always good,” Scott said. “Cuss us out, light us a fire — that’s good basketball. I’m a fan of that.”

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Tobias Harris keeps the Sixers entertained on their bus ride to Toronto

Tobias Harris keeps the Sixers entertained on their bus ride to Toronto

Around 10:30 p.m. Monday night, we were blessed with a Ben Simmons Instagram Live video of "DJ Tobi," Tobias Harris, on the Sixers’ bus from the airport to the hotel.

“There’s a soul plane and there’s a soul bus. You’re on the soul bus, ya dig?”

DJ Tobi then proceeded to interview all the players, coaches and team personnel who entered the bus, as you can see in the videos below, which do contain profanity. 

“State your name, where are you from and where are you going,” head coach Brett Brown said Tuesday morning, laughing about last night’s bus ride. “And when there is a lull, he's got Spotify hooked up, and he's got some hip hop going on.”

“DJ Tobi,” Matisse Thybulle laughed, struggling to find the words for Harris’ performance. “He was putting on a show for everyone. … It was funny because you were seeing people out of their comfort zone.”

With the rigors of an NBA season, and through all the travel, bus rides and plane rides, the value of that type of team bonding can go underestimated.

“It's team bonding,” Simmons told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “We're a pretty close group. We like to have fun and there are a lot of different characters and personalities on the team. … It's awesome. But that's just who we are as a team, everyone just likes to have fun, everyone has good personalities and means well."

Of course, it’s easier when you’re winning, and the Sixers delivered one of their most impressive defensive performances of the year in their win over Brooklyn, led by Simmons and Thybulle.

“We could carry that good energy over,” Thybulle said of the win over the Nets. “But it definitely help to keeps things light because the travel gets tedious and boring.”

For the Brown, it’s yet another characteristic he’s seen blossom out of Harris.

“Leadership comes in all different forms … and he does it naturally,” Brown said.

“It’s what makes team sport, for me, as enjoyable as it gets, when you can win with people that you respect and trust that care. And this group does.”

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Jameer Nelson, Phil Martelli react to troubling Delonte West video

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Jameer Nelson, Phil Martelli react to troubling Delonte West video

Troubling video surfaced Monday on social media of former Saint Joseph’s great and NBA player Delonte West.

The 36-year-old appeared to get into a physical altercation and then was recorded spewing profanities with his hands behind his back. The video contains inappropriate language.

On Monday night, West’s former college teammate Jameer Nelson and head coach Phil Martelli voiced their concern and offered support.

West has opened up in the past about his battle with bipolar disorder and run-ins with the law. The most notable incident was when he was pulled over in Maryland on a three-wheeled motorcycle and subsequently arrested and charged with speeding and two counts of carrying a handgun.

When he was on Hawk Hill, West starred during his sophomore and junior seasons alongside Nelson. The duo led St. Joe’s on an incredible run in 2004. The Hawks were the No. 1 team in the country at one point and earned a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament. They lost in a thriller in the Elite 8 to two-seed Oklahoma State.

After choosing to forego his senior season, West was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 24th overall pick. He last played in the NBA with the Mavericks in 2012 and his professional career ended in 2015 after a brief stint in the G League.