MIAMI — The Sunshine State hasn’t exactly shone brightly on the 76ers.
They’ll leave here this afternoon after losses on consecutive nights to the Orlando Magic (Friday) and the Miami Heat (Saturday).
The Sixers remained in Miami after the Heat game. They had an off day Sunday and are scheduled to practice Monday morning before flying to Indianapolis for Tuesday’s 3 p.m. game against the Indiana Pacers.
They can only hope that their outcome will be different in what will be a colder climate.
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Different opinions of Sixers’ energy level
As one would expect, the Sixers faced a lot of zone defense vs. the Heat on Saturday.
It didn’t bother them late in the overtime session, as Ben Simmons caught two key alley-oops.
Simmons was asked his thoughts on how the Sixers executed throughout the games in general. Making shots, they got Miami out of the zone early. However, they struggled at times against it after intermission, missing shots.
“We are right there, but it starts in the first quarter,” Simmons said. “We have to carry the same energy all the way through. We can’t wait to the last minute to [do that].”
Simmons said the Sixers show spurts of it now and then.
“Some games, we have it mostly every time,” he said. “Some days, we don’t have it at all. We got to figure it out.”
Joel Embiid had a different opinion about the team’s energy level.
“I feel like everybody is playing hard,” he said. “We can all do much better. I think the main thing is to play hard, and I feel we [see that] everybody tries.”
I give my best and worst awards for the Sixers’ loss to the Miami Heat. Here’s a hint: Ben Simmons’ defensive effort was wasted.
Do the Sixers have enough focus to earn home-court advantage in the playoffs? One could argue the Sixers are the NBA’s biggest underachievers.
The Butler did it. Former Sixer Jimmy Butler lifts the Miami Heat over the Sixers.
Sixers have to decide Norvel Pelle’s fate shortly. He’s closing in on the maximum number of days (45) an NBA team is allowed to bring up a player on a two-way contract.
Late miscues vs. the Heat lead to the Sixers’ continued road woes. The Sixers are 7-10 on the road, and things aren’t about to get easier.
T.J. the Grit
T.J. McConnell wanted to be a Sixer his entire career. However, the reserve point guard is flourishing as an Indiana Pacer. McConnell signed a free-agent deal with the Pacers this summer after the Sixers didn’t re-sign him.
The fifth-year veteran is averaging career highs in scoring (7.0) and assists (5.0) and providing the grit that he displayed for the Sixers. He’s also doing it in fewer minutes, averaging a career-low 18.2 as the Pacers’ third point guard.
“We knew he played with a lot of grit,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said earlier this month. “That was the reason for bringing him in.”
Important dates: Next Five Flow
Tomorrow: Sixers at Indiana Pacers, 3 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Friday: Sixers at Houston Rockets, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN
Jan. 6: Oklahoma City Thunder at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV
Jan. 9: Boston Celtics at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, TNT
Jan. 11: Sixers at Dallas Mavericks, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Passing the rock
Question: At what point — if any — does Brett Brown lose his job? For example, if they go 5-5 or 4-6 in the next 10, would that be enough to move on from him? — @ByCoreySharp on Twitter.
Answer: What’s up, Corey? Great question. I think things would have to go drastically wrong for Brown to lose his coaching job during the regular season. I think the Sixers will wait and see what he does in the postseason.
If they do go 5-5 or 4-6 in the next 10 games, yes, that would be a terrible look for the coach, especially if players start to question his ability. However, who on this staff would be a viable replacement? Last season, Monty Williams would had been able to step right in and coach this team at a high level. This season, Jim O’Brien would be the best candidate, because he has had head-coaching stops with the Pacers, Sixers and Celtics.
But none of the Sixers’ bench coaches have the experience needed to take over a championship-caliber team. And teams typically don’t bring in someone from the outside in the middle of a season.
So I think Brown has job security throughout the regular season.