PHOENIX — It really was the perfect way to end their five-game, 10-day road trip.
Joel Embiid offered up his chicken wings Wednesday night to Ben Simmons across the locker room after the Sixers' 132-127 win over the Suns.
Just moments earlier, Brett Brown smiled when talking about what impressed him most.
“Ben and Joel hooking up on some things was outstanding," Brown said. "Seeing those two play together and lead us was as impressive to me as the final score.”
Over the past week and a half, Brown has fielded an abundance of questions about the challenge of not only integrating Jimmy Butler but also the Simmons and Embiid dynamic.
“The fit is natural,” Brown said before Tuesday's 119-113 win over the Clippers. "The challenge is obvious. The ecosystem of Joel and Ben Simmons and JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler, integrating that together is a challenge. Understanding how to coexist, what ecosystem they can thrive in together is a day-to-day coaching responsibility, and it’s as honest and as simple as that.”
For Brown, creating that ecosystem starts with a simple recognition of sharing in each other’s success.
What's most on my mind lately is the growth of the team, the cohesion, the ability to share in someone else's success. The ability to communicate candidly, that's all I care about … playing together, sharing the ball, acknowledging an assist, lifting somebody off a floor, sharing in somebody else's success. That's what makes coaching enjoyable too.
It’s why when Brown looked down at the stat sheet at halftime in their win over the Clippers, he was elated to see the Sixers' 20 assists. It’s why when Brown glanced over at Embiid actively cheering for his teammates on the bench in Phoenix, it stood out to him. It’s why when being asked about Embiid getting the better of Deandre Ayton, he couldn’t help but pivot to chatting about the connection he saw between Simmons and Embiid on the floor.
And, it’s why maintaining that culture that this Sixers program has worked so hard to create, is so important, starting with Embiid.
“The way we play is about moving the ball, that’s how our culture was created," Embiid said Wednesday after scoring a season-high 42 points. "It’s not about feeding the best player 30 shots a night. That culture is not going to change. We are going to move it, share it, play together and we are going to be happy for who goes off, as long as we get the win.”
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