On The Beat | Back at it

by Lauren Rosen

As the 76ers gear up for Orlando, Brett Brown remains confident in his team’s abilities and excited by its potential.

"I feel like we have as good a chance as any,” Brown said Wednesday during a Zoom call with reporters.

“I am completely looking at this as a fresh start, a restart, and tremendous excitement to get going again."

The restart brings with it a promising prospect for Sixers fans - a healthy dynamic duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

“When you search for silver linings with this pandemic, it would be hard pressed for me to find something more obvious than this: It’s enabled Ben to reclaim his health,” Brown said.

Prior a back injury suffered in late February, the All-Star  was having his best two-way season - averaging 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game, while also leading the league in steals (2.1 spg).

As for Embiid, the hiatus began immediately following one of his best performances this season, a dominant 30-point, 14 rebound effort against Detroit on March 11.

As was the case with Simmons, Brown expressed pride for the way Embiid has remained committed to his health and readiness throughout the unexpected time away.

"We've got a dominant low post player, in my opinion, the best low post player in the NBA, in Jo." Brown said.

In each of his two most recent talks with media, Brown reaffirmed his top priority heading into the restart: the Sixers' overall fitness.

“[The goal is] landing in Orlando at a B, B+ fitness base. I can get you to an A,” Brown said. "You want to do whatever you can to feel you're going to bring the team into the playoffs doing the best it can."

As the team continues its mandatory, individualized workouts at the Training Complex, Brown has had opportunities to watch, and is heartened by what he’s seen.

But fitness goes far beyond what’s visible on the court. Brown says caring for his players’ mental health is paramount.

"We've dug into [mental health] no different than us digging into offense in half court,” Brown said. “We’ve invested a ton of time into what that side looks like."

Alongside holistic health, Brown’s second priority as Orlando approaches is team building and camaraderie.

“Once we actually come out of quarantine in Orlando, to go overboard… on reconstructing, on reclaiming, a fabric that equals togetherness, that equals a team,” Brown said.

Entering unchartered territory, one thing is for sure:

“The endurance aspect of what we’re about to experience cannot be denied,” Brown said.

The same can be said for the unknowns that loom large in the world.

"Safety, obviously, rules the day,” Brown said. “I hold a high level of optimism. I'm inherently curious about this, as we all are."

The team will continue its workouts in Camden throughout the next week, and is scheduled to depart for Orlando on July 9.

WORTH NOTING:

Brett Brown also addressed the recent signing of Ryan Broekhoff, an Australian sharpshooter he knows quite well, on Wednesday.

“I’ve known Ryan forever.  When I got the call that he had decided to come… I told him, I’m really surprised that he decided to do it. What I do know is that he’s got an NBA skill in that he can shoot, I think there’s an Australian toughness that he brings to the table. He’s not 22, he’s in the latter stages of his career, and it’s one of those things - who knows?”

Broekhoff did a Zoom with media as well.

"I think the fitting in should be pretty seamless. You’ve got Ben, you’ve got Embiid, and they demand attention. Hopefully I can be one of those that keeps my man occupied, and let the big men do what they do."

For more information on the Sixers’ restart and projected schedule, click here.

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