Game Preview | Brown Eyes Key Stretch Heading Towards Break
The 76ers know what they want. Now, according to Brett Brown, it’s a matter of going out and getting it.
During Monday’s practice in Camden, “bottom line stuff” was the theme, said the fifth-year head coach.
With the All-Star Game break looming, and an unusually long string of home dates in the offing as well, the Sixers, Brown believes, are well-positioned to make further strides towards attaining the primary goal they set for this season, which is clinching a playoff berth.
Tuesday’s nationally-televised pairing against the surging Washington Wizards (8:00 PM EST; TNT, 97.5 FM The Fanatic / Sixers Radio Network) represents as good a starting point as any. Washington has won five in a row, and sits 4.5 games in front of the Sixers for third-place in the Eastern Conference.
Brown knows the contest offers the Sixers a chance to gain ground, and put into practice a view that Brown has held for a long time.
“People who know what they want have a far greater chance of achieving it,” Brown said Monday. “Studies say it.”
Since the first day of training camp, the Sixers have been open about expressing their desire to secure the franchise’s first trip to the post-season in six years. That the Sixers, after spending 28 of their first 50 games outside of South Philadelphia, have the luxury of playing exclusively at home leading up to their All-Star hiatus is a scheduling twist very much on Brown’s mind.
“In all my 17 years doing this, I’ve never had five home games prior to an All-Star break,” he said. “We want to capitalize on that.”
Nearly two-thirds of the way through the 2017-2018 campaign, the Sixers find themselves in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. As of Tuesday, they were eighth in the standings, and in possession of a .500 record at the 50-game mark of an 82-game season for the first time since 2008-2009.
“If you said at the start of the year, at this stage, you’re going to be 25-25, that’s not too bad,” said Brown. “We’ve lost some games we should’ve won, we’ve won some games people thought we didn’t have a chance of winning...but the bottom line is after 50 games, which is a pretty decent sample size, we’re doing ok.”
Particularly in a few specific areas.
Entering play Tuesday, the Sixers ranked fourth in the league in defensive rating (103.5), second in assist percentage (64.1), third in offensive rebounding percentage (25.7), and first in overall rebounding percentage (52.6).
Even the club’s offensive rating of 105.2 points scored per 100 possessions represented considerable progress from years past.
Stepping back and taking the big picture into account, Brown has been pleased with how the Sixers have performed. His hope is that the team continues keep its eye on the prize, especially at a key juncture of the season.
“There will be people and teams their minds will be in Bermuda, I want ours here in this city,” Brown said. “We know what we want is to be a playoff team, and we have a chance in the next five games to make up some ground, and not play catch up after the All-Star break.”
Despite losing All-Star John Wall four games ago to left knee surgery, the Washington Wizards (31-22) have gotten on a roll. With Monday’s 111-102 victory at Indiana, Washington has now won a season-best five consecutive contests, and moved into a tie for third-place in the Eastern Conference with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Washington is in the midst of a grueling stretch in which it’s playing 11 of 14 outings on the road. Bradley Beal, a first-time All-Star this season, has averaged a team-best 23.7 points per game.
• Video: NBA on TNT / TNT OT app
• Audio: 97.5 FM The Fanatic / SIxers Radio Network