76ers

Joel Embiid, Sixers couldn't have been much stronger in defense of Brett Brown

Joel Embiid, Sixers couldn't have been much stronger in defense of Brett Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — When asked about Brett Brown and the report by Marc Stein of The New York Times that the Sixers’ loss to the Raptors on Sunday night might have put the head coach’s job in jeopardy, Joel Embiid could have offered a few platitudes about Brown being a nice guy who’s done the best job he could.

Embiid did not take that route Monday at exit interviews.

I was off social media. I heard a lot of these rumors and stuff. I just thought it was bulls---. He’s done a fantastic job. He’s been there through everything, and then this year I think he grew even more as a coach. It’s hard when you've got five guys that can score the ball and that can do a lot of things on the basketball court. It’s hard to put it together. At the end of the day, it comes down to the players. I don’t think he should have anything to worry about. He’s an amazing coach, better person. Obviously I’ve got a lot of love for him. If there was someone to blame, put it all on me.

Though JJ Redick said he didn’t feel “it was necessary to defend Brett to anyone,” noting that Brown’s work speaks for itself, he nevertheless praised the job Brown did with the constantly evolving Sixers’ roster.

He also offered a response to anyone who may feel Brown, despite leading the Sixers to consecutive 50-plus win seasons and agonizingly close to their first Eastern Conference Finals in 18 years, doesn’t deserve to hold his role.

“For any NBA team,” Redick said, “when you think about a coach and potentially replacing that coach, you have to consider what coaches are available.”

Redick’s implication seemed to be that there aren’t any superstar coaches on the market for the Sixers to choose from if they were to fire Brown. 

Jimmy Butler reportedly “aggressively challenged” Brown about his role in the Sixers’ offense in January. Always frank, Butler isn’t the type of person who hides his true feelings. He reflected Monday on a complicated relationship with Brown, who’s talked often about how he enjoys Butler’s “free spirit” and presence as an “adult in the room.”

“Constantly growing,” Butler said. “Just had a slight [conversation] with him downstairs. I think he realizes how different a human being that I am. How I can be difficult at times, but it’s from the right place. … He’s a great, great dude. He’s always thinking about how he can make everybody great, which is hard to do when you have the roster that you have. I think he’s going to be here for a long time.”

James Ennis, on his sixth NBA team, shared the identical sentiment minutes later.

“Brett Brown’s a great coach,” Ennis said. “He’s a player’s coach — can really communicate with his players and get good knowledge, to learn from them, too. I think he’s going to be here for a long time.”

To Brown’s players, it seems the notion of his job security being a concern is ludicrous, and they’re not shy about expressing that opinion. We’ll see if those in charge of Brown’s fate feel the same way.

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Glenn Robinson III on his role with the Sixers: ‘I don’t really understand it’

Glenn Robinson III on his role with the Sixers: ‘I don’t really understand it’

Glenn Robinson III was having by far the best season of his NBA career, starting for the Warriors, averaging 12.9 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

Then he was traded to the Sixers.

Since being acquired by the Sixers along with Alec Burks, Robinson has started two games, come off the bench in four and missed all nine of his three-point attempts.

In an interview with Basketball Insiders’ Spencer Davies, he did not sound pleased with his situation.

Even when (Golden State) played Philly, I showed them what I could do,” Robinson told Davies. “So to play those consistent minutes a night and perform well … that’s the most disappointing part about coming here is that — both of us (are) coming off career years where we’re looking at hopefully big numbers after the season. I know I’ve got a family to feed. So you think about all those things.

“All those things play a role, and then when you come here and your role’s not really explained or you don’t know what’s going on with the trade — it’s not like it was a trade where you come in and immediately have an impact. It’s a little different, so … this team is full of wings, full of guys who can play. So really, I don’t really understand it. But it’s a business, you’ve got to make it happen and go out and try to do your best every night.

Though the Sixers have actually gone 4-2 with Robinson, the team has been in a state of constant change since acquiring him and Burks. Since Robinson has joined, the Sixers have used five different starting lineups. They’ll have to use a sixth Thursday night vs. the Knicks with Joel Embiid out because of a left shoulder sprain. Ben Simmons will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks with nerve impingement in his lower back. 

Robinson had a promising first game after the trade, scoring 10 points on 5 for 6 shooting against the Bulls and moving sharply off the ball, but it’s certainly true that Brett Brown has yet to find a clear role for him.

Last Friday, Robinson talked about the adjustment of moving in the middle of the season. 

“It’s always different,” he said. “You come into a new team and there’s new plays, new personnel. I think that they’ve came it pretty simple when both AB and I have been on the court. Like I said, it’s always different and you kind of learn on the fly and adjust. But teammates have been great, kind of telling us where to be and what to do during the games.”

The 26-year-old is in his second stint with Brown and the Sixers after playing 10 games in Philadelphia his rookie season. 

He still expressed some optimism to Davies that the team can turn the season around. 

“A lot of talent. I think we can go as far as we stick together and want to go,” Robinson told Davies. “We’ve just got a lot of great players and they know how to play the game. That’s the biggest thing, so as long as we can stick together, come together … it’s about defense for this group. We’ve got all the talent in the world to score. I think that we’ve got high chances.”

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This stat shows just how brutal the Sixers have been on the road

This stat shows just how brutal the Sixers have been on the road

It doesn’t take heavy analysis to see that the Sixers are in serious trouble. They’re fifth in the Eastern Conference and both their All-Stars are dealing with injuries

The biggest conundrum with this team is its home and road splits. The Sixers have the best home record in the NBA at 27-2 but fell to 9-21 on the road after a brutal loss to the Cavs Wednesday. 

It was their seventh straight loss on the road and ensured that they will go through the month of February winless away from Wells Fargo Center.

Seems unprecedented, right? Like nobody has ever been this dominant at home and so putrid on the road? Well, that’s because the Sixers are making weird, not-so-great history.

As of now, the Sixers are on pace to be the only team in NBA history to win at least 90 percent of their home games and lose two-thirds of their road games, per Basketball Reference

At 9-21, the Sixers have the same road record as their opponent Thursday, the New York Knicks. Yes, the New York Knicks. The 20-38 Charlotte Hornets have a better road record (11-20).

Brett Brown and it seems like every single player on the team has been asked about the road issues. Nobody has been able to give a concrete answer. Then again, if they had one, this might be figured out.

As it stands, the Sixers are underperforming, and their road woes are the biggest culprit. It won’t get much easier with a four-game West Coast slate that starts Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers and with Ben Simmons and possibly Joel Embiid still on the shelf.

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