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What to do with the centers still dominates Sixers

Brett Brown is still trying to figure out how to best use his three big men. It will continue tonight in Phoenix.

PHOENIX – Brett Brown is as transparent as a piece of Scotch tape. He talks to his players endlessly and about everything – world happenings, politics and, of course, basketball.

The whirlwind surrounding the team of late has been how Brown is going to use the trio of big men who are Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. For the past four games, the coach has paired Embiid and Okafor and says he will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Noel may or may not see some time off the bench as he continues to work himself back into playing shape following an early season procedure on his left knee which has limited him to basically no practice time before the past week or so.

With the team about to start a four-game road trip, Brown talked to the trio Friday morning as they prepared to face the Phoenix Suns. As always, everything was put on the table.

"As we grow our bigs, what are our advantages? And I asked them that question," Brown said. "You three bigs, what are our advantages? Tell me about defense. And we say things. Tell me about offense. And what are our advantages? If we don't maximize our advantages, well then there are negatives involved with this where you have to do some other things and find out where Ersan (Ilyasova) fits in and how you're ending games. So I have to look at it by completely identifying what are our strengths when we grow these guys and we play these guys. So we've got to do them. We have to take advantage of our advantages as we grow our bigs.

"We've started them four games. I want to end this year with these four games and continue to study that lineup. We'll continue to bring Nerlens into this as his fitness and knowledge of what we're doing grows. It will start to heat up at the end of the year when Nerlens gets to practice more and study what we're actually doing. My intention is to study this Jahlil and Joel thing, continue to find ways to get Nerlens involved. We're all excited about pairing Nerlens with Joel and step back and say, 'How does it work.' There will be enough body of stats and gut feel to see if this is going the way that we want. And if it isn't, we'll try other stuff. That's where we are at. My intention is to see it through for the rest of this road trip."

The team's other big man, Richaun Holmes, remained in Philadelphia as he undergoes the league's concussion protocol after a collision in Thursday's practice. The rest of the road trip includes trips to Sacramento, Utah and Denver. The team will return home January 3 to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.