Brett Brown is painfully aware of what’s looming this season for the 76ers – lots of losses and growing pains.
Through it all, the Sixers’ coach still realizes he must develop the young talent as much as possible. And boy are they young. Even younger than last season.
This is the third season on the NBA sidelines as a head coach for Brown. The first two seasons produced 37 total wins.
Philadelphia is already 0-3 after an opening night loss at Boston, a 28-point drubbing at home to Utah and a much-better-than-expected seven point defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
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While the Cavaliers are surging, even without the likes of injured Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, the Sixers are sputtering. It’s going to be like this for large portions of the season.
“We’re going to experience some heartache over the next month,” Brown said. “Everybody bunker in. That’s a fact, I’ve said it. It shouldn’t be a mystery. We may draw one out and go find a brilliant performance, but this is going to be a fist-fight for awhile.”
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The loss to Utah was especially difficult to stomach.
“I haven’t slept much over the last 48 hours,” Brown said. “When you study that game back and forth, and you learn from it. That’s my job. I’ve got to bring these guys in and keep them positive and keep them cocky with a little bit of swagger. We didn’t play well the last game. It was a poor opening night.”
To be fair, the lack of experience is astonishing. San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncanand Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant have more experience individually than the entire Sixers team collectively.
Think about that.
“When you combine the youngest team in the history of the sport and experience, it’s a rough formula,” Brown said. “But that’s where we’re at. And nobody’s crying about it and it’s my job to move this young group forward. That’s what I’m going to try to do. To say that it’s not as difficult as previous years would not be true.”
But there are glimmers of hope.
Jahlil Okafor, the No. 3 overall pick from Duke in the most recent NBA Draft, scored 24 points against the Cavaliers. This was the second time in his first three games that he posted at least 20 points.
Nerlens Noel had 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots against Cleveland. He also continues to show signs of improvement with his shooting touch.
Undrafted point guard T.J. McConnell recorded 12 assists without a turnover against the Cavaliers.
Yet the losses have already added up. They will likely end up with another rough season in terms of wins and losses.
“I think we’re figuring it out,” Okafor said. “We’re getting better, and one of the big things was after the game against Utah we were working on offense in practice and I was happy with the way we came out. We definitely made some improvements with how we played.”
Bunker in, however, as Brown stated. The victories within the game will be just as important this season.