Before we get started let me admit, I am not a Brett Brown advocate. After Brett Brown single handedly lost three games to Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics last year, I have been on the record stating he must be fired if he does not produce this season. Especially considering the moves Elton Brand made this season to put this team into title contention, if the Philadelphia 76ers do not at least make the Eastern Conference Finals this year, Brett Brown must be fired.
Now that that is out of the way, I will defend Brett Brown here. Brown made headlines when he made it clear that the young Sixers players will not be in the playoff rotation. Regarding new G-League additions such as Zhaire Smith and Shake Milton, Brown said “I don’t see those guys factoring into postseason play. I don’t. It’s no disrespect to them, what we have is kind of what you have.”
Brett Brown is 100% correct to make this call. In the playoffs, the game slows down and becomes more physical. Additionally, the bench becomes less important as teams are no longer playing back-to-back games and each game is critical. Thus, teams play their starters much more than they play them in the regular season. The playoffs are rough for young players with no experience and certainly is no place for Smith and Milton. If you were to give time to Shake Milton, T.J. McConnell’s minutes would inevitably decline and McConnell is essential to this team, as we saw in the Boston series last year. Zhaire Smith has hardly practiced with the team this season and is still coming off a foot injury, it would be foolish for Brown to play him at all in the playoffs.
Brown addressed the toughness of the playoffs saying, “Playoff rotations historically don’t increase, they decrease, and so I’m always trying to find eight-and-a-half, nine players, that you can spin around based on what the game tells you to do.” Brown added that Jonah Bolden may get some playing time depending on the matchup. It is expected the other role players that may see some time include Boban Marjanovic, T.J. McConnell, and Mike Scott.
There are some people furious at the declaration Brett Brown made about his young guard claiming he should give new blood a chance; but the playoffs are no time to be giving people a chance. The Sixers have potential to attend and, depending on the match up, win a championship this season. It all comes down to whether or not Brett Brown has learned from his mistakes in the playoffs last season. Let’s pray he did.