76ers

Brett Brown says Sixers will play 'smash mouth offense and bully ball defense'

Brett Brown says Sixers will play 'smash mouth offense and bully ball defense'

The fact that the Sixers will have a monstrous starting five is not lost on Brett Brown.

They’ll essentially start two centers in Joel Embiid and Al Horford, a 6-foot-9 wing in Tobias Harris and a 6-foot-10 point guard in Ben Simmons. Josh Richardson will be the shortest of the bunch at 6-foot-6.

That’s serious size.

And Brown knows exactly how he’s going to use it.

When you all leave the room, you should all write this and hear me loudly: We will end up playing smash mouth offense and bully ball defense,” Brown said at a luncheon Wednesday in Center City. “We have the team that can do that.

Now that is an identity.

And it’s not just about size either. With the exception of Harris, who will have to make an adjustment going from guarding fours to chasing wings at the three, all the members of the starting unit are considered excellent defensive players.

At times last season, Brown sacrificed defense to keep JJ Redick’s elite shooting on the floor. Other times he was forced to go to James Ennis, who provided significantly better defense but not the offensive prowess or floor spacing the team desperately needed.

Brown doesn’t forecast the same issues arising this season.

I don't see that with this starting five,” Brown said. “I'm not sure who or where the liability exists. … Even Tobias promises me, 'I will be better defensively.' I say I hear you loudly and I look forward to seeing it. I think any time you have an athlete with character, which he is, he can play defense. And I feel like getting him in late and understanding all our words and schemes, by any stretch is difficult. …

“I'm not feeling many deficiencies defensively. … Forget my opinion, looking at the statistical facts — when Joel Embiid is in the game, we're the best defensive team by a lot in the NBA. When Joel sat, we plummeted to 24th. That's a canyon. I don't see that with Al at a 5 or Kyle [O'Quinn] at a 5 or Jonah [Bolden] or whatever. How you cover that and is it based on matchups; my first glance is I'm wondering where the holes are going to happen.

The one deficiency that could arise is shooting. With Redick departing for New Orleans, the Sixers lost one of the best three-point shooters of the last decade. That’s not something that’s easily replaced.

Brown doesn’t share those concerns. He may not have Redick anymore, but he does have Harris. Harris was flirting with a 50-40-90 season with the Clippers before his trade to Philadelphia. Then a 27-game slump came at the worst possible time as he struggled to assimilate into the Sixers’ star-studded lineup.

Shooting may not be the forte of Horford or Richardson — both players have shot over 36 percent the last four seasons, right around the league average — but they’re threats opposing teams will have to respect.

Even if the outside shooting sits around the league average, Brown isn’t worried. He knows where his team will hang their hat and that this roster is full of offensive talent.

I know that we'll play defense,” Brown said. “That rules my day, it's where my head is centered as our starting point. You hear me talk about Philly edge, hard and real, and it's true. … So I feel comfortable that we're going to defend, because we can, and it's how I see the world. I feel confident that we're going to score because we have options … [A reporter] asked me about the perimeter game and that's always on my mind, but I don't see it as being sort of our pre-mortem — if we're going to die, what's it look like? I don't see that.

What Brown is talking about is a bit of a departure from the modern NBA. Most teams want to play fast and they want to shoot a ton of threes. Brown insists the team will still play with pace with the “fastest person in the NBA” in Simmons running things, but the Sixers don’t fit the mold of most modern teams.

Brown harkened back to the days of Jerry Sloan’s Jazz and Phil Jackson’s triangle offense with the Bulls after he recently watched an old game on NBA TV. He asserts that he doesn’t want to bring that back. He’s constantly talked about the NBA’s move out to the three-point line and that the game will never go back.

That’s why you shouldn’t take the “smash mouth offense” stuff too far.

Bucking trends, we're not doing that,” Brown said, “but bully ball might be whose guarding Tobias and he's got somebody small, we're just going to pull it and drive it. Not maybe a play back down game, maybe he's just going to shoot over at the rim somebody that's 6-4. When I say bully ball, I don't mean entirely like pound pound, long twos, contested twos stuff. I just know that we've got the ability to punish smaller people in different ways.

Whatever you want to call it or however you want to phrase, Brett Brown is speaking a language Philadelphia can appreciate.

And he’s forging an identity that suits his new-look team.

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Sixers vs. Knicks: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers vs. Knicks: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The Sixers (8-5) return to the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday to take on the Knicks (4-10) after a disappointing road trip.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch:

Home cooking

Yes, the Sixers starting 8-5 is disappointing, and with the amount of talent they have, they should be better.

But they’ve had a brutal schedule to start the season. Not necessarily in the teams they’ve played, but with the amount they’ve had to travel. If it feels like you’ve barely seen the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center, it’s because that’s the case. Just four of their first 13 games have been at home.

Wednesday’s game is the start of 14 of their next 20 at home. Thought it’s been only four games, the Sixers currently have the best defensive rating in the NBA at home. They still have other things to figure out, but this stretch should help. 

At full strength

If the starting five is able to finish the game Wednesday, it will mark just the fifth time they’ve played together for an entire contest this season. It’s a small sample size, but the Sixers’ starting unit has the fifth-best net rating in the NBA among five-man lineups that have played at least 70 minutes together. 

The players are far from a perfect fit together. The biggest issue seems to be Al Horford’s fit. He’s playing next to a center in Joel Embiid that the offense runs around. He’s also playing with the most untraditional point guard in NBA history in Ben Simmons. With his experience and willingness to fit any role, Horford still has plenty of time to figure it out.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing over the past two games has been the performance of the team’s other two starters — Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson. They’ve both shot the ball significantly better and more importantly are both looking more comfortable finding their spots on the floor. The pick-and-roll or two-man game with Embiid seems to have helped both players — when Embiid has rolled to the basket hard.

Bold strategy

It was an odd strategy when the Knicks decided to sign ALL the power forwards this offseason. Fourteen games in, the strategy isn’t any less head-scratching. Philly native Marcus Morris has played well, but New York is 4-10 and looking like they’ll be watching ping pong ball this summer.

They do have young pieces that are intriguing. Though Knicks fans clamored for Zion Williamson, his Duke teammate, R.J. Barrett, has been excellent in his rookie campaign. The No. 3 overall pick is third on the team in scoring (15.8 points per game) and is shooting a surprising 37 percent from three.

But it seems head coach David Fizdale is more interested in playing the team’s vets than giving time to high flyer Mitchell Robinson and second-year players Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier. To each their own.

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Sixers release hype video officially revealing 2019-20 City Edition uniforms

ben_simmons_city_edition_gray.jpg
NBA

Sixers release hype video officially revealing 2019-20 City Edition uniforms

While a sneak peek last night from Sixers president Chris Heck teased the City Edition uniforms, they were officially revealed Wednesday morning with this epic hype video.

It seemed next to impossible to top last year’s design, as the theme was centered around local icon Rocky Balboa. Yes, Rocky is real and an icon but don’t get me started on that right now.

One season later and the Sixers went the historic route again. This time drawing inspiration from the iconic rich history of Philadelphia's culture. You can certainly appreciate the classic design, though they do seem fairly similar to the City Edition uniforms from the 2017-18 season.


Image credit: Twitter, NBA, NBC Sports Philadelphia 

Once it was hinted that the uniform had a copper stripe as an ode to the Liberty Bell, I was thinking of a National Treasure-esque hype video … but this one is equally (who am I kidding, this is definitely way better) than what I could’ve imagined. The artist, Alix Philogene, narrated the video to describe the every day people of Philadelphia and the grind this city has in a tribute called "What is Philly. 

Check it out:

 

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