By Michael Donovan
Sixers coach Brett Brown watched the 135-114 loss to Golden State Warriors Saturday night and he saw his future:
“(Warriors coach) Steve (Kerr) and I go way back. His background as a player and my background with Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) and how I see the world in general, the pass is king,” Brown said before the game, via CBSSports.com. “The pass is king, and I’ve said before, I think it’s the link to team chemistry. I think it can creep into a locker room if you’re selfish, I think it can creep into a not as cohesive defensive mentality if you’re selfish. I think it’s king.”
“What [the Warriors] do and the way they play with the talent that they have is hard to pull off,” Brown continued. “I have tremendous respect for how they play, and Steve. As importantly, the superstars within that system that have found a selfless type of mentality to play that way. It’s easy for me to talk about it with those types of words and examples. It’s hard to do that. From afar, I have a lot of respect for the people within it, Steve as their coach and the style that they’ve embraced.”
“That’s the way we want to play,” said Joel Embiid, who struggled facing tough Warriors defense all night, finishing with 12 points and seven turnovers. “Right now we’re second in assists behind [the Warriors] so that’s the way we want to play — we don’t want to be selfish. We just want to move the ball and that’s a model we can follow. I’m excited about our future.”
“We feel good. We’re in a good place,” Ben Simmons said. “We’re moving the ball well, and defensively, we’re playing well. It just came down to the second half.”
Sure it didn’t last, but at least for a half, the Sixers gave us a glimpse of a team that hopes to be a championship contender down the road: One that plays the brand of versatile, positionless, unselfish basketball that the Warriors have perfected; one that has won five of its last seven games, including a victory over another elite team that knows how to share the ball — the Houston Rockets.
“Simmons is a guy who wants to pass the basketball. He can play in the open court, he can make any pass … he can pretty much do everything,” thew Dubs’ Kevin Durant said after the game. “[Embiid is a] load down low. He can shoot it. He can put it on the floor. He can just bully you down in the paint, so he’s got it all. They’re gonna be a force in a few years. Even though they’re playing well right now, they’re gonna be a force down the line.”
Kerr, the man who went from the broadcast booth to the top of the NBA coaching food chain in a few short years, also sees that something positive is brewing in Philadelphia.
“It was impressive to watch their young talent and the movement,” Kerr said after the game. “They play together really well. They lead the league in passes per game. They do a great job moving the ball. Brett has a similar philosophy as me. No coincidence we both played or worked under [Spurs coach Gregg] Popovich and so we have been influenced by Pop quite a bit. I like their team. It’s a good young team — a lot of talent. Things are looking bright for them.”