Brown trying to keep Sixers fresh heading into All-Star break

Posted: January 23, 2014

'LET'S JUST get to the All-Star break."

While that is not being said aloud around the 76ers right now, you certainly get the impression that is what many of the players are thinking. For most, the 5 days between games that is the break is a time to get away from the game, from one another, the daily grind and recharge the batteries by getting home to family and friends.

Having lost seven of their last eight games, all but one by double figures, the Sixers have a lot of butts dragging on the ground right now, and as much as a win or a good practice might lift the spirits, nothing will take them to that happy place more than Feb. 13-17.

But until then, they have 13 more games to play, starting with tonight's matchup in New York against the Knicks. And for sanity's sake, getting some wins over the stretch that includes a western swing is a must.

"There's a human element when you go 2-for-40 from threes [the team was 8-for-57 from beyond the arc in the past three games], you're shooting 50 percent from the free throw line, you can't finish at the rim," coach Brett Brown said.

"This period of time has always been interesting over my NBA days, where you're getting ready for spring break and everybody is going to Fort Lauderdale, and there's a time where you can dig in pre-All-Star break and finish this middle third of the season with some grunt.

"We want to take our roster, no matter what resumés say on it, and fight and compete and play with energy. At times, it's easy to say we didn't have energy or we were fatigued, and that could be true, but it has to be done with a certain spirit. I think our bench has come in and played with tremendous spirit. They're pressing and running, and so on. But we want to see not a deflated first group when we start getting down and missing shots. We can't let anything to do with our offense influence how we defend. We take the realities of our roster and we admit it, and we move on, and we try to get some physical stuff done and continue to run."

The problem is the three veterans he's looking to for leadership - Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner - have been through this losing thing more times in their careers than not, so the frustration level is high and familiar.

Add to that rookie Michael Carter-Williams' trudging through his initial season and now an injury to reserve Tony Wroten, and those thin resumés of the remaining players come to the forefront.

"I've never played this long of a season, so I'm learning each and every day and I'm going through [fatigue] a little bit," MCW said. "My body is tired and mentally I have to stay strong. I just have to keep staying with it and keep doing the little things, whether it's stretching and drinking extra water, whatever it is."

Though he didn't experience it all that much in San Antonio, Brown is familiar with the mental challenge presented just before the All-Star break.

"The deflating side of some things, at times, creeps in too quickly," he said. "It's the nature of people, it's the nature of our league. You see different layers of the league in regard to what month it is. This is always a time when people can hit a wall. Always. And how people and how coaches can handle it is always a challenge. I think with my group, where we're really at, when you take hits and take some 30-point losses, it's always a challenge . . . My greatest fear is trying to make sure as a group we stay as a group, we fight as a group, we practice as a group, and all those things can take some hits if you're losing and especially the way we've been losing the last few games."

Tony Wroten said that his ankle feels better but that he won't rush getting back to the lineup, so not to further hurt himself. He also said it is not a high ankle sprain, but a low one, which is better . . . The team was supposed to practice yesterday morning in Washington before heading to New York. But the snow canceled those plans and, after a good delay, the team flew to New York and didn't get in a practice.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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