Brown on loss: 'It is what it is, and we move on'
Brett Brown and the Sixers have lost five of their last six games. (AP)
DALLAS -- The euphoria that accompanied the Sixers' 3-0 start to the season should have been tapered, just as the disappointment with six losses in eight games should not have the team or fans straying from the big picture.
Fans are probably fine with the losses because "Winless For Wiggins" is on their minds, but players want to win.
“I say: 'This is life in the NBA. You have to back it up,'” Brett Brown said explaining what he told his team following a 37-point loss to the Pelicans Saturday night (see story). “We are going to stay healthy and take care of our bodies. To the group’s credit they stay together. This is a long year and come hell or high water my mission is to keep us together, keep us moving forward, continue to improve, show them what they did well, show them what they have to improve on and move on.”
Working on team principles becomes a little more challenging when you are staring a near 40-point deficit in the face as the Sixers were in New Orleans Saturday night, but there is a concerted effort with this group to see what can be gained in a given moment.
“That’s my job as a point guard to try and keep everyone organized and work on things for the next game,” said Darius Morris, who scored a team-high 20 points in the loss. “If we can’t win this game at least we can improve on something. Work on things like sharing the ball, transition defense. Just because the scoreboard shows that the game is pretty much out of hand doesn’t mean it has to affect our effort.”
The one thing that has hurt the Sixers of late is too many possessions consist of one-on-one basketball. Against the Pelicans, the Sixers had just 16 assists on 35 made field goals. One-on-one play is a byproduct of falling behind big and trying to get it all back at once.
“Ball movement, everybody plays for each other,” Brown said on what improvements his team needs to make. “It is a terrible way to coach when: here’s a play for Thad. Here’s a play for Evan. Here’s a play for Michael Carter-Williams. Players are here to play and the ball has to move and players play and that is the environment that we all seek. They enjoy playing the game where the ball moves.
“It is a group problem that is very fixable because they are good guys who enjoy each others' company. There is no malicious intent or selfish intent, none at all. We have to preach ball movement and good to great. That’s a good shot, that’s a great shot, all the time.”
Good to great is a tremendous mantra. It is also tangible.
Losses may mount but if Brown can keep his players understanding his wishes, the losses do not have to define them or divide them.
“Brett came in and he wants to establish an identity for us which is running and playing hard all the time,” Carter-Williams said. “Sometimes we are like, 'Coach, we just had a back-to-back and we are running in practice already.' He is not going to change and we now know that now. He pushes us each day in practice, makes us run hard and do the little things that you need to do to win.”
Carter-Williams has not played the last three games because of a bruised left foot. He is not expected to play Monday against the Mavericks.
“There is a right way to doing everything and they know that too,” Brown said. “It is trying to bring quality effort to whatever we are doing. It is on court and off court. It is everything.
“We want to do things the right way and in a professional way knowing that they add up. I am convinced you can get good at whatever you choose to emphasize and work on. We have chosen some core values that we won’t let go on.”