76ers

Is Brett Brown's job really on the line in Game 7 vs. Raptors?

Is Brett Brown's job really on the line in Game 7 vs. Raptors?

They say that anything can happen in a Game 7.

That certainly holds true for the Sixers and Raptors series which has seen four blowouts — each team with two wins in those — and two nail-biters.

Now, we may have another added wrinkle with a report surfacing that Brett Brown’s job may be on the line if the Sixers can’t win Game 7. Even if they’re victorious on the road Sunday, the team reportedly has a Finals-or-bust mentality when it comes to Brown, per Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Given how this season and Brown’s entire tenure have gone, that sounds like a terrible mentality if true.

Brown has his fair share of detractors — most of which are Sixers fans — but let’s give him credit for a few things. He coached this team through The Process. Those opposed to Sam Hinkie’s plan would constantly point to the team developing a “losing culture” and how that would affect young players. “Will the fans come back?” the critics would say.

All Brown has done is lead the team to back-to-back 50-win seasons for the first time since 1986. And he’s done it with an ever-changing roster. Brown used to joke that he would say to guys, “nice to meet you, you’re starting” during The Process years. Well, that didn’t change this season. Remember when the team was desperate for wing help and signed Corey Brewer to a 10-day deal? Brewer was then inserted into the starting lineup and asked to guard James Harden.

Look at the roster from last year’s run to the second-round of the playoffs compared to this season. The only real rotation players left are Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and JJ Redick. Of course this roster is immensely more talented, but that doesn’t make what Brown has done easy.

For all the excellent moves Elton Brand made, he failed to acquire a legitimate backup center. With Embiid’s health history, it’s something this team sorely lacks. And while acquiring players like Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris helped, Brown essentially coached three different teams this season. He managed to keep it all together, managing talented players and huge personalities. The only issue we’ve seen reported was when Butler allegedly “aggressively challenged” Brown, but that appeared to blow over as quickly as it surfaced.

No matter what happens this summer with all of the team’s expiring contracts, everything is built around Embiid and Simmons. The only stability they’ve ever known is Brown. Brand is the team’s third GM in four years with the last two being ousted in the most unceremonious of fashions. With all the chaos, Brown has truly been the face of the franchise. With more possible roster upheaval this offseason, the team needs a stabilizing force.

There are two things Brown has gotten and earned criticism for. He’s often too loyal to players he likes and he struggled mightily to make adjustments as Brad Stevens and the Celtics took down the Sixers in the second round in a gentleman’s sweep. 

During this playoff run, he took his favorite player, T.J. McConnell, out of the rotation. Amir Johnson is another Brown favorite that hasn't seen much run. Brown tried to ride out Boban Marjanovic as his reserve five, but went away from him when the hulking big man struggled.

Brown got killed for not making adjustments against Stevens last season. These playoffs have been a different story. Brown has constantly made adjustments in this series against Toronto and several have paid off. Even as we approach Game 7, Brown has tinkered with the notion of playing seven guys, likely his best option.

On top of everything, the caveat of all caveats, Brown’s best player has had health issues through the entire postseason. If the Sixers had anything close to a healthy Embiid in Game 4, this series might already be over. Can you judge a coach when their “crown jewel” isn’t close to 100 percent?

Lastly, who the hell replaces Brown? The best coach on the market was likely sitting on your bench already, but Monty Williams is headed to Phoenix. South Jersey’s finest Frank Vogel is off to the Lakers. Is Tyronn Lue your guy? He’s managed big personalities, but he’s also had the best player in the world during his only head coaching gig.

They say that anything can happen in a Game 7.

So maybe you shouldn’t make franchise-altering decisions based on one.

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Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

Updated: 11:06 p.m. 

NBA fans are desperate for entertainment. 

With the season on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league is still aiming to provide some sort of distraction. According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the NBA is planning to have a players-only NBA2K tournament, and hopes to launch the event on Friday. Haynes reports the tournament will include 16 players and last 10 days. 

This report leads us to consider who might represent the Sixers if they have a player participating. 

Let’s rank the 15 players on the roster based on what we know about them as people, athletes and gamers. (This ranking is highly unscientific.) 

15. Al Horford — The oldest on the roster and a family man. Video games don’t seem like Horford’s cup of tea.

14. Kyle O’Quinn — He prefers yoga

13. Zhaire Smith — Smith doesn’t often have a lot of downtime. “When I have an off day or something and I’m not doing anything, I’ll watch the Sixers. I try my best to watch them, but usually I’m busy,” he said in January.

12. Tobias Harris — You might remember what Mike Scott said about Harris in October: “He reads books.” That’s not to say reading and 2K are mutually exclusive, but Harris doesn't appear a likely candidate to be a great gamer. 

11. Furkan Korkmaz — Korkmaz spent a large chunk of this summer playing for Turkey in the FIBA World Cup and working on his game and conditioning. He can’t have taken much time sharpening whatever 2K abilities he has. 

10. Raul Neto — Neto’s a fashionable, polished guy. He could very well be an excellent gamer, but he doesn’t fit the stereotype.

9. Norvel Pelle — He found out that he was going to be converted to an NBA deal while watching a movie in his bed. Make of that what you will. 

8. Josh Richardson — As of two years ago, Richardson said he was “trash” at 2K. He at least plays and would probably have an idea of what he was doing. 

7. Matisse Thybulle — We saw Thybulle lose to the Suns’ Mikal Bridges on Friday night. Defense was, ironically, his Achilles heel. 

6. Glenn Robinson III — It’s a big stretch, but Robinson was on a young Warriors team for the first half of the season and might have some relatively recent reps against solid, young competition.

5. Alec Burks — Ditto with Burks. 

4. Shake Milton — This is mostly gut feel (not that the other rankings are much different). Whatever the competition, Milton's poise can’t hurt. 

3. Joel Embiid — Embiid was apparently good enough to crush Markelle Fultz. We’re not sure exactly how good that is, but it’s something. 

2. Mike Scott — Back in 2011, he claimed to sport a 21-3 online record in 2K. Though he said last year that he quit on the game because “they made me so trash up there,” he can’t have entirely lost those skills. 

1. Ben Simmons — Simmons is the Sixers’ most accomplished gamer by far and says he “can play any game.” He’s the clear pick unless there’s someone out there with a hidden talent. 

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Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Nineteen years ago today, the Sixers rose Charles Barkley’s No. 34 up to the rafters.

Barkley, who’d retired the year before after a stint with the Rockets, was touched by the honor. (You can check out footage from that night in the video above.)

“This is one of the greatest nights of my life and I’m honored to share it with you guys,” he said.

In eight seasons as a Sixer, Barkley made six All-Star games and averaged 23.3 points and 11.6 rebounds. He made the NBA Finals with the Suns and was named MVP in 1993, the season after he was traded from the Sixers. 

The team unveiled a statue of Barkley on Legends Walk in September at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. Never hesitant to speak his mind, he doubled down on calling the Sixers the “stupidest organization in the history of sports” for having Joel Embiid play through a back injury last January and said not taking Brad Daugherty No. 1 in the 1986 NBA Draft was “the biggest mistake the Sixers ever made."

Barkley still looks back fondly on his time as a Sixer while acknowledging things often weren’t smooth or painless.

“This is not an easy city,” he said in September, “but it’s an amazing city to play in because if you bust your hump, they’re giving to give you nothing but love. Now, if you don’t bust your hump, you’re going to think, ‘Charles Barkley, you suck.’ You’re going to think that’s your middle name.”

As a footnote, the Sixers beat the Warriors on the night of Barkley’s jersey retirement for their 50th win of the season. Allen Iverson had 35 points and nine assists, while Tyrone Hill scored 21.

“You see someone as tough as Charles Barkley try to hold in his tears, that’s a moment that I’ll never forget,” Iverson told reporters. “It just looked great. It looked like something that I’d definitely want to be a part of.”

Iverson’s No. 3 would be retired nearly 14 years later. 

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