PHOENIX - Taking time off to recharge the battery isn't something that works for 76ers coach Brett Brown.
His charging level is almost always at the high point, it's just the way the man is wired. So while the 3-day break away from his team over the Christmas holiday was great for him to spend time with his family, there was still that unreachable itch he couldn't start scratching until the team got back together on Thursday.
"In many ways, it was great, because you could reflect and digest and have some level of peace where you could just take a deep breath and look at what the stats bore out, follow your gut feel on where we're at, and make subtle tweaks that you know you have problems in," said Brown, who enters tonight's game against the Phoenix Suns with an 8-20 record.
"From that perspective, it was good. There was great anxiety being away. It's not in my nature to like time off. So you battle that real emotion, as well. As I step back now, I see a fresh team that has come back, and we're good to go. We've banged out 2 good days, their enthusiasm is good, their attention to defense has been good - transition defense, especially. We need to get better at understanding how to help and where to help, and are we overhelping, and how we're dealing with the three-point line."
Giving up threes has been the crux of the Sixers' problem so far this season, as they've allowed opponents to shoot 38.3 percent from beyond the arc (fourth worst in the NBA) and make an average of 10.5 (worst in the league). The problem doesn't stem only from the defense (though that has a lot to do with it), but also from their deficient offense, which produces too many bad shots and turnovers, which lead to easy looks at the other end.
"We're doing what I've done my whole life," Brown said following the team's practice yesterday. "We've just got to get better. The offensive side of things bears out some problems, too. There are some people who aren't defensively inclined. If you're not careful, you get tricked, you really get tricked. And when you really dig in and you assess reality, you say, 'Let's look at them. Let's really just look at them.'
"Then you learn more, and it confirms my gut feel. So on one level, I have peace that we're putting these guys in places that they should be put in. On other levels, you admit there is a lot to do. We don't have individually built, all-league-type defenders. It has to do with me being smart and them being smart as a group. That's the only hope. It will come. It will come to a higher level than it currently is.
"We're investing every inch of what we have into this middle third of the year on improving in that area, and it has to happen. We're not going to go away from pace, we've just got to be smarter on how we use it. We're not going to change."
He will drill what he believes into his players until they get it. Then, he hopes, the results will be to his liking.