By Peter Gleason
According to some kn0w-nothings in the lame-ass local media, Sixers coach Brett Brown is on the hot seat, especially if they can’t advance past Toronto and into the Eastern Conference finals against the Bucks or Celtics.
Brown was forced to make some changes in his game plan against the Toronto Raptors. Among them, was increasing the usage of Jimmy Butler in pick-and-roll situations, while dialing Ben Simmons as an utility man that can run the break and dominate transition.
The strategy worked, as the Sixers have won the last two games and now boast a 2-1 lead with one more home game to play before the series shifts to Toronto again.
“At times, I have been using Jimmy as the pick-and-roll guy,” said Brown told the Bucks County Courier Times. “(Simmons’) role has changed from the regular season to effectively be our defensive stopper.”
Butler is shining as the team’s point guard while Simmons is being used as a transition-pusher, a role similar to Draymond Green’s in the Golden State Warriors offense.
Unlike Simmons, Butler had the perimeter game down pat, and is an excellent free-throw shooter that can get his at the rim, or create foul-prone situations for his matchups, whether it is a matter of speed or strength that favors him.
Simmons’ usage rate is down from 22.1% of the Sixers’ possessions in the regular-season to 16.9% in the playoffs — a stark contrast that has worked out to the Sixers’ benefit.
“You always got to coach to your players,” Brown told Sixers.com. “The evolution of (pick-and-roll) stuff it was obvious, and I think of the growth of the people behind it is as important as anything.”
For what it’s worth — this is the same kind of change that Butler enthusiastically asked for during the season. Yes, the one that created a media frenzy after he was spotted raising his voice to Brown.
Brown agreed with Butler, but made very slight changes after their conversation — maybe waiting to pull out this card from under his sleeve at the right time.