Sixers' Brett Brown wants to see 'appropriate fear' for COVID-19

Sixers' Brett Brown wants to see 'appropriate fear' for COVID-19

The Sixers had no players test positive for the coronavirus during the NBA’s Phase 2 protocol, Brett Brown said Wednesday in a video call with reporters.

Brown also said none of the Sixers’ active and healthy players have opted against traveling to Orlando for the planned resumption of the 2019-20 season. Zhaire Smith has a bone bruise in his left knee and is out for the remainder of the season, meaning the Sixers should have as many as 16 players available.

“We’re figuring out with this restriction we have as far as staffing and players, who ultimately is going to end up going to Orlando,” Brown said. “We’re pretty close to knowing 100 percent. ... Nobody has tested positive, and certainly nobody has put their hand up to feel like they don’t want to go.”

The NBA and NBPA announced Friday that there were 16 positive tests out of the 302 players in the initial stage of mandatory testing. The Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan, the Kings’ Jabari Parker and Alex Len and the Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon are among the players who have publicly acknowledged testing positive for COVID-19. 

Mandatory individual workouts began Wednesday. The Sixers are scheduled to arrive in Orlando on July 9, and their first of eight seeding games is set for Aug. 1 against the Indiana Pacers.

Brown was asked about the health and safety challenges the NBA faces as it attempts to conclude the season despite a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, and specifically about his own perspective as a 59-year-old man. The CDC has said that the risk of severe illnesses from the coronavirus increases with age. Approximately eight out of 10 documented coronavirus-related deaths in the United States have been among those 65 and older.

Instead of focusing on himself, Brown took that as an opportunity to give his opinion on the responsibility to adhere to certain regulations and best practices during the coronavirus pandemic, including wearing masks in public. In order to reduce the risk of transmission, the CDC has recommended that everyone over two years old wears a face mask in public

All of us will judge, do people wear a mask or not? Let’s just go there,” he said. “I think it’s a statement, when you’re in public and you’re trying to be responsible — there’s a responsibility that we all have. Is it arrogant or rude (to not wear a mask)? I think a little bit. And so, all of us, we make a statement — what do we think? The world as I see it is still a little bit too bulletproof for all of us. My brother-in-law has been with the World Health Organization and Red Cross and Doctors without Borders for three decades. He’s positioned in Madrid, Spain. He’s responsible for Southeast Asia. And so you’re really curious about, ‘Hey, how do you see the world?’ 

“We all kind of lean on (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director) Dr. (Anthony) Fauci and we’ve all got our sources, and what do we think? … Of course, we’re all going to Orlando with a responsibility. We have to. We have some level of — going back to my phrase with basketball — appropriate fear. … It’s on all of us to do, let’s just call it the right thing, the smart thing, in order to create what the safest environment is. Will people do that to the level that I’m saying? Probably not.

In discussing players who might be tempted to leave Disney World and seek a respite from that isolated environment, Brown was hopeful that caution about the larger risks and potential consequences would be the overriding priority. 

“I hope that there is a true recognition of the severity of doing that,” he said. “There needs to be a selfless approach to all of this, which really kind of epitomizes team sacrifice, doesn’t it?”

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Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons has subluxation in left patella

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons has subluxation in left patella

The injury Ben Simmons sustained in the Sixers' win Wednesday night over the Wizards is a subluxation of the left patella. He's out for the team's game Friday night against the Magic and treatment options are being considered, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Serena Winters.

Simmons exited Wednesday's game in the third quarter after throwing a pass for Al Horford. He immediately flexed his left knee and headed to the locker room.

The 24-year-old made his second All-Star team this season and has averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds. The Sixers shifted him to power forward in their new starting lineup, and he was open to the change.

"You've just gotta work with different things,” he said on July 14. “You’ve gotta try different things out, see if they work. We’re not at a stage where we can be comfortable yet. I’m still trying to figure it out myself ... what feels comfortable, what’s right for this team and how we’re gonna win. 

“If it’s this way, then I’m all for it. I’ve been having fun in that position — whatever you guys say, the four — whatever it is. But at the end of the day, when you see me I’m on the floor, I’m making plays."

He'd missed the Sixers' final eight games before the NBA's hiatus with a nerve impingement in his lower back but recovered from that injury and said he felt explosive heading into the restart. 

Without Simmons, Brett Brown will have a few options to replace Simmons in the starting lineup, including original starting power forward Al Horford and wings Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz.

Mike Scott (right knee soreness) and Glenn Robinson III (left hip pointer) will both participate in the Sixers' practice Thursday after missing the team's first three seeding games. 

This post will be updated.

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2020 NBA playoffs: Looking at where Sixers sit in Eastern Conference picture

2020 NBA playoffs: Looking at where Sixers sit in Eastern Conference picture

Though they’re calling “seeding games,” the Sixers’ primary concern in the contests leading up to the playoffs is not seeding.

“How do you go into the playoffs … how can you go into that date feeling like we’re the best we can be?” Brett Brown said on July 12. “Worrying too much about moving up because you could play this team or avoid that team, I stay away from that.” 

Through three games at Disney World, Brown wishes the Sixers were playing at a higher level. The team has gone 2-1, but that record includes a fourth quarter in which the Sixers allowed the Pacers to score 46 points, a game-saving shot from Shake Milton vs. the Spurs and a win over the 24-44 Wizards that was tight until the end. Ben Simmons exited Wednesday’s game against Washington early with a left knee injury

It’s been slower coming than I would’ve thought,” Brown said Wednesday. “I liked our practices, I thought … the preseason games you saw at times a dominant defense. We’ve started these three games, I think, very inconsistently. I think we do some good things offensively, defensively, and then you see head-scratching stuff. It hasn’t gone as quickly as I had hoped. But I see where I think it can end. 

“We’re still figuring out some things with how we’re playing the team and Shake (Milton) coming in and so on. But I think, for the most part, we’re trending in the right direction, just not as quickly as I wished.

Here's where the Sixers sit in the Eastern Conference: 

3. Boston Celtics 45-23 GB: 9 
4. Miami Heat 43-25 GB: 11
5. Indiana Pacers 42-26 GB: 12
6. Sixers 41-27 GB: 13 

Boston technically still has a chance to surpass the Raptors for the No. 2 seed and the Sixers aren’t eliminated from contention for the No. 3 seed, but both outcomes are very improbable. Kemba Walker sat out the latter half of a back-to-back Wednesday, a 149-115 Celtics win over the Nets, as the All-Star guard works through a left knee issue. After playing Toronto on Friday night, the Celtics will face Orlando, Memphis and Washington.

The current No. 4 and No. 5 seeds play each other twice in the remaining seeding games, which should be interesting. The Heat’s other opponents are the Bucks, Suns and Thunder, while the Pacers’ are the Suns, Lakers and Rockets. Before the NBA’s hiatus, Miami was 2-0 against Indiana. In case you were curious, T.J. Warren hasn’t dropped off much after his 53-point performance vs. the Sixers. He leads all scorers at Disney World with 39.7 points per game. 

Despite having the sixth-easiest strength of schedule, the Sixers don’t have great odds of rising. Basketball Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report gives them a 72.8 percent chance at the No. 6 seed, 23.0 percent at No. 5 and just 4.1 percent at No. 4. Those probabilities are intuitive when you consider the Sixers have lost their season series vs. the Heat and Pacers. 

The Celtics are the Sixers’ most likely first-round opponent at the moment by a good margin, which would potentially leave the Sixers a path of Boston-Toronto-Milwaukee. One could make the argument that such a road is best for the Sixers, since the team won its season series over Boston, 3-1, and wouldn’t have to face the top-seeded Bucks until the Eastern Conference Finals, but nothing’s going to be easy for a No. 6 seed. 

We analyzed the Celtics, Heat and Pacers as possible first-round opponents for the Sixers here

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