Brett Brown had never beaten his former team as the head coach of the 76ers. That changed on Wednesday with help from Embiid and Simmons.
Brett Brown was named the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in August of 2013 at the outset of what came to be known as “The Process.” He came from the highly successful staff of the San Antonio Spurs, led by NBA coaching legend Gregg Popovich and the hope was that Brown could replicate that kind of winning here.
As of last season Brown’s record as a head coach stands at 75-253. That is a whole lot of losing but as any Sixers fans knows, it was all part of a larger plan. A plan that was to start to bear some fruit during the 2017-18 NBA season.
To some degree it has. As of Tuesday the 76ers’ record was 17-19, which is an improvement. Sure, the team can’t seem to hold onto a lead going into the third quarter and winning without center Joel Embiid on the floor has become quite the challenge but, as they say, baby steps.
And on Wednesday, the Sixers and Brett Brown took another small step forward.
The Sixers finally beat Brown’s former team in a 112-106 victory that snapped a 12-game losing streak against the Spurs that dated back to before Brown became head coach.
Embiid finished the night playing 35 minutes and totaled 21 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks. Not too bad for a guy who up until an hour before tip-off had been ruled out after spraining his wrist against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
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The decision to play against the Spurs was all Embiid, who has become frustrated with not being able to hit the court due to injuries. After the victory, Embiid talked about how this was a special game he didn’t want to miss.
“I love my team. I want to be right there with them. I don’t want to quit on them. Then, also, I wanted to give Coach his first win against his former team and we did that for him.”
Ben Simmons contributed a team-best 26 points and was 10 for 15 from the free throw line. Sending Simmons to the charity stripe was a strategy Popovich used previously when playing the Sixers but on Wednesday it backfired in the worst way.
In addition, the Sixers kept the turnovers to a minimum (13) and went to the foul line almost twice as many times as San Antonio (43-23) which made a huge difference.
Now it should be noted that the Spurs were playing the second game of a a back to back and consequently Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Rudy Gay and Danny Green did not play.
But that shouldn’t take anything away from what the Sixers accomplished. They finally got a considerable monkey off their backs, Embiid showed that yes, he can play with some pain and Brett Brown finally beat his old team.
Not a bad way to spend an evening in South Philly.
Next the Sixers will try to extend their three-game winning streak against the Detroit Pistons who arrive at the Wells Fargo Center Friday. After that they head to London for a matchup against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 11 at the O2 Arena.