Brown pleased with Sixers at first key milestone of the season

YONG KIM /STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Brett Brown says he views Thanksgiving as the first 'natural break' in the season.
YONG KIM /STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Brett Brown says he views Thanksgiving as the first 'natural break' in the season.
Posted: November 27, 2013

WHILE THE Thanksgiving holiday allows us to reflect upon our lives and appreciate what we have, it is a time for 76ers coach Brett Brown to look back on what is, on his schedule, the first quarter of the season.

Tonight's game in Orlando won't officially be the quarter mark for the team, as it will be only the 16th game of the 82 the Sixers will play. But it is a spot on the calendar Brown had mentally highlighted when he took over the organization in August.

"I do, in real small pieces," said Brown on whether, and how, he breaks down the season. "For instance, we just had a real rare 2-day opportunity to practice. So in my view, I saw two practices, two video sessions. Then [today] we'll have shootaround and then another video session. So I saw six opportunities to grab on to a message where he had a chance to clean something up - a single thing on defense and a single thing on offense. Now we've beaten up on that four times, and we'll have another two tomorrow.

"In relation to the full calendar, I felt like we needed to find ways, any way, to feel good about ourselves up until Thanksgiving. I really felt like we needed to find ways before the season began to feel good about ourselves, whether it was wins or other ways. I'm happy with the way that we're coming together this sort of first stage, in my own head, how I broke it down. That's [Thanksgiving] the first natural break. Then you have it up to Christmas, the All-Star break and then you have something really different after the All-Star break. I've seen it for years. People take different shapes after the All-Star break."

The shape his young team has taken so far is one that has pleased Brown, though it is still in its infancy. And there have certainly been obstacles along the way. Brown has been hindered by a roster shortened by injuries and personal issues, has had to use players out of necessity whom he met only a few days prior, and somehow has been able to engineer an exciting beginning of the season that has collected six wins in 15 games.

Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams missed four games with a foot injury. Spencer Hawes (knee) and Tony Wroten (back) should return tonight after missing the Indiana game on Saturday. Thaddeus Young is still away from the team because of personal reasons. The team waived Kwame Brown and Darius Morris a couple of weeks ago and picked up Lorenzo Brown, Elliot Williams and Brandon Davies so far.

All that probably wasn't part Brown's vision before the season, but he and his team have rolled with it and are happy where they are and where they might go. After practice yesterday, it was hard not to notice young big men Nerlens Noel and Arnett Moultrie putting in their work. Noel (knee) probably won't see action this season, but Moultrie could return in the next couple of months.

"I had a small glimpse when he was with me [during summer workouts]," Brown said of Moultrie, who had ankle surgery before the season. "I had a big glimpse of summer league, paid all attention to that. You can't help but get excited to have another bouncy, energized player, and that's my mission with him, because it's in him to be energized every play. The knock at times has been that he's going to have to play with a far greater motor, and I think that's in him. I give him full credit to how he's taking care of his fitness and his weight, even though there's been no reward to be on a court."

There is usually no reward after only 16 games, either. But Brown thinks the organization is on the right path.

"I am so thrilled to be here and so grateful to have this opportunity," he said. "I like coaching my team. I get so excited with the city when you bump into people and you can feel sort of what I feel day to day. I hope something is building, I hope it's going in the direction that we all want.

"I just think that the opportunity is tremendous for all of us, and by all of us, I mean my staff and my players. We don't take it for granted. We want to come in and do a good job for everybody. I'm extremely grateful for that."


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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