A clean-shaven, perfectly trimmed Brett Brown picked up our video call on Friday afternoon, quite a difference from the bearded Sixers head coach we’ve become accustomed to.
“My son, truly,” Brown told NBC Sports Philadelphia with a laugh when explaining his new look. “He takes great pride in it. He’s my barber.”
Along with hair cuts and long walks with his dog, whom he proclaimed is the "fittest dog in Philadelphia," Brown has become the "cook of the house."
Even if there is an ulterior motive for his new expertise.
“I do it mostly because then I feel like you don't have to clean, so I get out of that a little bit,” he said. “And I just love the time with my family.”
But don’t hold your breath for an intricate recipe ...
“The experimentation I've had with a crock pot,” he said of his latest quarantine diversion. “Good beef stew. You cannot screw it up. It's impossible. It's all sequestered in a pot, you slow cook it for 10 hours ... and it'll last you a few days.”
Amid the dog walks along the Schuylkill and Wissahickon trails, and gathering around the table for some of Brown’s beef stew, there is plenty of time for basketball.
“I’m shocked how quickly the days go by,” he said.
Brown said he’s communicating daily with general manager Elton Brand, usually by FaceTime, and talking weekly with players.
On Wednesdays, Brown speaks with all of the bench coaches and peripheral staff (sports science, analytics, strength and conditioning), which he estimates to be about 18 people.
They discuss offensive, defensive and special teams topics, such as out of bounds plays.
"What did we do well and what did we do poorly," Brown said, "and the why to both questions, so that we've got answers of what do we have to keep going, and what do we have to fix."
And of course, gearing up for a potential playoff race …
“If we play Boston in the playoffs," Brown said, "what does that look like? Or Toronto, or Miami? It has been very well mapped out.”
On Thursdays, Brown meets with his player development coaches.
“We have eight young coaches that are responsible for stables of players, and I lead the charge with a specific theme," he said. "It could be pick-and-roll offense or pin down offense."
On top of that, the coaches walk Brown through what they’ve been doing with each player.
“[Director of player development Chris] Babcock might walk me through what we've been doing with Joel [Embiid] and [player development coach] Tyler [Lashbrook] might walk me through what we've been doing with Zhaire [Smith],” Brown said. “Everyone has their own stage. From the coaching side of it, we are good to go. If someone says it’s go time and we're going to play again, I think we can jump into this in a smarter, better way.”
And Brown sure hopes his team gets the opportunity to do that.
“The reality that we had our starters 19 times out of 65 games is real,” Brown said. “I do believe this team is built for the playoffs. [We’ve] taken deep dives into why we’re poor on the road, why we’re we good at home, the delineation between our starting center position … studying pairings, studying how this team is uniquely built for the playoffs and studying what that means defensively, just as much as offensively.
“All those deep dive studies have been unfolding over the past seven weeks, and I feel that, without getting into too much coachspeak, we have uncovered some things and confirmed some things that give me tremendous confidence that if the season can continue and the launching pad is realistic enough to have a level of preparation ... you really feel confident and comfortable that the team can do some special things, if we can first just get healthy.”
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