A 25-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets obviously doesn't reflect well on Brett Brown.
It's inevitable he'll face a ton of criticism after the Sixers' worst performance of the season, a 122-97 defeat Sunday night in Brooklyn (see observations).
But the lifeless, careless effort the Sixers turned in doesn't reflect very well on his players either.
To their credit, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were blunt in admitting that.
“We’ve been playing soft," Simmons told reporters. "We’ve been bulls----ing."
"I’m sure everybody can agree that we were soft," he said. "We were bad.”
Neither Simmons, Embiid or Markelle Fultz used the fact that this was the second game of a back-to-back and the Sixers' fifth game in seven days as an excuse.
There's really no legitimate excuse for a season-high 27 turnovers, for attempting 40 shots less than the opposition, for letting a sub-.500 team grasp control of the game in the second half without any discernable fight back.
“The coaches don’t control us making shots and they don’t control us turning the ball over," Embiid said. "That’s none of their fault. At times we can all do a better job as far as controlling the game. I don’t think it’s none of their fault; it’s on the players. We’re the ones that go out there and we have a game plan, and we should just follow it and trust it."
A big part of the game plan was, of course, to feed Embiid on the post. Yet the big man, who entered the night averaging 29.6 points, second most in the NBA, scored 16 points on just eight field-goal attempts. He's been an incredibly efficient player this season, but not to the extent that he can rescue his team from a nightmare night while only shooting eight times.
On Tuesday in Toronto, the Sixers also struggled with turnovers, giving it away 23 times, and they also fell behind a large margin — as many as 26 points. On that night, they worked their way back into the contest, cutting the Raptors' lead to single digits. That sort of effort was lacking Sunday.
“Tonight, for whatever reason, it just didn’t feel like we were going to have that firepower, that fight that we need to have," Brown said. "We’ll see how we respond after we all get back after a day off tomorrow.”
According to Embiid, Brown "was ashamed" by the Sixers' performance.
Wednesday night in Indiana, the 6-5 Sixers will try again for their first road win. At a minimum, they'll look to play with the kind of energy and intensity Brown asks for, and which he depends on his players to provide.
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