The three-on-three games some of the 76ers and assistant coach Aaron McKie play in the late afternoon on game days before the public enters the Wachovia Center have become a factor in determining when Elton Brand will be activated.
Brand, continuing his rehab from the dislocated right shoulder he suffered Dec. 17, was out there early Wednesday and showed no negative effects. He will be out there again today, before the game against the San Antonio Spurs. But until the medical staff re-evaluates him, he'll be listed as either day-to-day or a game-time decision. Take your pick.
"It's getting there," Brand said after yesterday's shell drills and light shooting at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "When you get in the thick of the season, there are no true practice-practice days, so it's kind of hard to gauge getting in gamelike situations, bumping and pulling on the shoulder and stuff like that."
And, particularly with the team on a five-game winning streak, there's no reason to rush.
"It's long-term," Brand said. "We're playing great, and we're winning, and [if] we keep on winning it's not a problem at all. I'll be able to help whenever they need me to help. It's definitely not an emergency to come back right now."
The Sixers, though, have a lasting memory of their 108-106 loss in San Antonio on Jan. 3, the final leg of a six-game road trip. They got burned for eight three-pointers in the first quarter, fell behind by as many as 21 and came roaring back, only to lose on Tony Parker's follow-up jumper with 0.9 seconds remaining.
"It's a little bit of a revenge game," Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said, adding, "I think we're playing better basketball now than we were back then. They're one of the top teams in the league, so it'll be a statement game for us." *