Sixers can't get down after blowout losses

Sixers can't get down after blowout losses
October 21, 2013, 9:00 am

Brett Brown's 76ers have lost their last two preseason games by a combined 56 points. (USA Today Images)

Things are about to get real for the 76ers.

Following an exhibition game at Ohio State University against the Cavaliers on Monday and one more at the Wells Fargo Center against the Timberwolves on Wednesday, the Sixers have a week to get ready for the season opener against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

Tall order.

The Sixers were blasted by 30 points against the much-improved Brooklyn Nets and again by 26 points against the Charlotte Bobcats last week. Sure, it was just a pair of exhibition games, and three starters did not play in Charlotte, but it goes a little deeper than that.

New coach Brett Brown said the loss to the Nets was a reality check, which when coupled with the loss to the Bobcats leaves his youthful club a bit demoralized. Certainly, the Sixers are going to take their lumps this season, and they understand it. But it’s one thing to rationalize it and another to go through it. The Sixers appear to be setting themselves up to have a high pick in next year’s draft, but need to guard against creating a losing culture.

That’s why Brown was especially disappointed that big man Lavoy Allen missed Saturday’s workout at the Palestra because he overslept (see story). It’s especially disappointing noting that Allen has struggled with injuries and his play on the court throughout the preseason.

According to Brown, the Sixers can’t take any shortcuts during this rebuilding process.

“You can build skill, [but] it's hard to build DNA character qualities,” Brown said during Saturday’s session at the Palestra. “And that needs to be the foundation, the bottom line, number one. We need the right competitors who want to get better.
 
“There is no one whose skills stand out that significantly more than others, and so it's people. Who are the people we are going to keep here or that [general manager Sam Hinkie] is going to bring in? What makes them tick? That is what is crucial in Year 1. You can’t get tricked.”

Consider that a warning for Allen -- or anyone else on the Sixers’ roster. Noting that the Sixers have plenty of opportunities for young players in the form of playing time, there isn’t much room for messing up. Add in the fact that Allen plays in the frontcourt, where the Sixers need all the help they can get, and slip-ups are going to stand out more than usual.

“I am trying to get my conditioning back,” Allen said last Friday when discussing his sore knee and poor play. “I sat out for awhile. It is more a conditioning thing than the knee.”

So with the last two exhibition games scheduled for this week, the Sixers need to show something. No, it doesn’t matter if they win the games, but competitive play will go far. Brown and some of the veteran players have admitted that they are a bit worried about the young players getting demoralized because of the difficult losses to the Nets and Bobcats, so these next two games are important for the team’s psyche.

After that, Brown will take care of the rest.

“I think that is on me to keep it upbeat and positive and honest and all things that are day-to-day teaching,” Brown said after Friday’s practice.