Inside the Sixers: Sixers have been fortunate, but they've taken advantage

Rookie coach Brett Brown has no illusions. "We know where we are at. We are going to enjoy it."
Rookie coach Brett Brown has no illusions. "We know where we are at. We are going to enjoy it." (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: November 04, 2013

The 76ers are fortunate.

There's no other way to explain it. The Sixers know it. So do their first three opponents, the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, and Chicago Bulls.

Yet that shouldn't take away from the unexpected excitement surrounding the franchise.

After beating the Bulls, 107-104, on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers are 3-0. It's their best start since also opening 3-0 during the 2006-07 season. But . . .

"I want to make sure that we say that we get it. It's two games," rookie coach Brett Brown said after Friday's 109-102 over the Wizards at the Verizon Center. "We know where we are at. We are going to enjoy it.

"But we are going to keep doing what we are doing. In the simple little world that we live in, I still see areas that we can improve in."

Brown realizes that the improvement won't come overnight. Nor is he concerned.

The approach to this season remains the same. The franchise is content with starting its rebuilding process by sacrificing wins.

Miami, Washington, Chicago, and the rest of the NBA's teams are fully aware of this. That might influence teams into resting a key starter against the Sixers. Folks hear about a roster loaded with fringe NBA players and believe another squad's backups would beat them.

We are starting to find out otherwise.

But the two-time NBA champion Heat approached Wednesday's game as if Philadelphia was just a stopover between games against the Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets.

The date with the Sixers came one day after Tuesday night's ring ceremony and home opener against rival Chicago. Perhaps overconfident, the Heat decided to play without all-star Dwyane Wade on Wednesday.

That and an inability to match the Sixers' intensity proved to be the difference in the 114-110 win.

Two nights later, the Sixers faced a shorthanded Wizards squad. Starting center Nene missed the game after suffering a calf injury in the first quarter of Wednesday's season opener against the Pistons. Nene finished that game and was expected to play Friday. However, the 6-foot-11, 250-pounder informed the coaching staff that he was unable to go during warm-ups.

But John Wall's developing back spasms might have had more to do with the outcome.

The Sixers had a tough time stopping the Wizards and their point guard prior to his back pain. Wall scored 15 of his team-high 26 points in the first quarter. He also made his first seven field-goal attempts. Following his lead, the Wizards built an early 14-point cushion.

But in severe pain, Wall was held to three second-half points on 1-for-6 shooting.

"It hurts badly right now," Wall said, pressing his right hand against his back, after the game. "I'm just going to go home and get some rest."

There's no denying that the Sixers had exciting victories over the Heat and the Wizards. They overcame numerous miscues, battled back from double-digit deficits, and thrived in transition late in the games.

The Sixers are prideful with a core of players in Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes who have experienced winning. And rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams appears to be a star in the making.

"Like I've been saying, nobody is a loser, " Turner said. "Just because you are supposed to lose, supposedly. That's what the experts say. That doesn't mean you have to go out there and try to."

Teams around the league had better take notice. If not, the Sixers will continue to steal victories.


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