Royce White had five points, three rebounds and five fouls in 10 minutes during the Sixers' win over the Celtics. (USA Today Images)
NEWARK, Del. -- Just two months into the job, Sixers coach Brett Brown hasn’t had much difficulty putting together a starting five. Three games into the exhibition season, Brown has settled on Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, Thad Young, James Anderson and Michael Carter-Williams as his first five.
That was the easy part.
“I might tinker with it during the preseason, but I don’t need to,” Brown said. “I feel the need to play more of the bench guys and the young guys to see what we have there. I’ll persevere with that starting group and give them as much court time as I can.”
The trick will be for the coach to figure out the rest of his rotation. Tony Wroten, the 6-foot-6 guard, is the first man off the bench. But after that, Brown hasn’t quite figured out which players work well together.
And he’s not really in a hurry to find out.
Prior to Friday night’s exhibition game against the Boston Celtics at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center (see Instant Replay), Brown said one of the objectives for the game was sizing up the second unit.
“If you look at that group it’s kind of like The Bomb Squad,” Brown said. “They come in with reckless abandon, they don’t know what they don’t know and it gets even a little more trickier with Royce (White). We haven’t seen him and it’s all guesswork for me when I see those young guys come in with the second group.”
Brown went with Wroten, Darius Morris and White as his first players off the bench and used 12 players during the opening half. Getting time for the bench players hasn’t been difficult for Brown. Finding the right mix will be a challenge.
“It hasn’t been hard,” Brown said. As long as I know my first wave of subs and you manage it, then you go with gut feel and you try to end games with guys you think can win games.”
It wasn’t always that way. Brown says when he was coaching in Australia that he used to script out his substitutions before the game. Over time he learned he didn’t need to micromanage the game so much. Instead, because Brown likes to run an up-tempo offense, he bases his sub routines on whether or not his players are tired.
“I’m so focused on fatigue. They aren’t running like we want to run or guard how we want to guard for whatever reason,” Brown said. “I don’t like subbing for mistakes at this stage of the season because I want to help them and I want them to learn, but I do sub for fatigue reasons.”
In other words, Brown lets the game play out naturally before sticking his thumbprint on it.
White gets active
Like everyone else, Brown wanted to see how much ballyhooed rookie White handled his first action with the Sixers.
After a run of two-minutes, 42 seconds in the first quarter, White made his presence felt.
White picked up four fouls in less than three minutes. In the third quarter, White was on the floor for less than three minutes before picking up his fifth foul.
He was busy.
In a little more than eight minutes, White had a dunk, a layup, a foul shot, three rebounds, a steal and a pair of turnovers.
“That’s the deepest I’ve ever gotten in a short amount of time,” White said. “I had four in two minutes. That’s unheard of. That’s unprecedented.”
But it was preseason and Brown allowed White to get some minutes. More than anything, White needed to run.
“That was great,” White said. “It was like a dream come true all over again. I played in one preseason game last year, but it’s been so long. It felt great.”
The 6-foot-9 rookie also saw some action at the five-spot on the floor. Before the game, Brown was asked where White’s natural position is.
“Four, maybe five. He’s strong enough to play five,” Brown said. “He reminds me of [Spurs forward] DeJuan Blair. He’s strong enough that he can play behind and not get manhandled, but clever enough where he could create problems for a natural five.”