BOSTON - Brett Brown has a dilemma.
Does the 76ers coach keep his best players on the floor no matter what? Or will be put in what he believes is his best situational lineup despite possibly losing his top players who aren't on the floor?
In this the Sixers' third consecutive season of tanking, one of their main goals is developing Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel in a talented twin-towers tandem. However, the 6-foot-11, 223-pound Noel sat the final 2 minutes, 11 seconds in Monday's 100-95 setback to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Brown opted to put a smaller player on Timberwolves swingman Andrew Wiggins, who was playing power forward at the time.
"I have to coach basketball," Brown said. "I have to do it where you walk the most incredible concoction. There's a recipe you are always trying to figure out. I never coached more moving parts in my life."
Who is the point guard? Who's healthy? Who are the two bigs? What are the best groupings on the floor in certain situations?"
But perhaps the biggest question is how should the Sixers grow with Noel and Okafor. The pair hasn't exactly performed well on the court together.
There will be more touchy lineup decisions to make on a team that destined to become one of the worst in NBA history.
Brown has to weigh what he believes will provide a much-needed victory against player development.
"Then you look at another two weeks," he said. "There's going to be [injured point guards] Tony [Wroten] and Kendall [Marshall returning]. It's not getting any easier. It's very challenging, but nobody's crying. Nobody's begging for anything. That's just the way that it works.
"We are trying to do the best we can under legitimate circumstances."
Brown was asked if two weeks is the definite timeline for Marshall and Wroten to return. Wroten actually tweeted following Monday's loss, "Just wanna help my team. In do time tho. My time coming, 12/11."
He is referring to Dec. 11, the day the Sixers host the Detroit Pistons.
"I don't know," Brown said when asked further about the two-week timeline. "I threw that out. [They will return] in the not too distant future."
T.J. McConnell does a great job of finding teammates, but he rarely looks for his own shot driving the lane. That's a major reason why the rookie point guard didn't attempt a single foul shot heading into Wednesday's matchup with the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. If you're counting, he's gone 15 games and 429 minutes without going to the foul line.
"To not get to the free foul line is not a concern," McConnell said Wednesday morning. "It's just weird that it hasn't happened. I'm not going to in there to throw up some crap shot just to get to the line.
"I'm just trying to get people the ball. If it happens, it happens."
A pass-first player, McConnell has only attempted five field goals per game. He averages 6.9 points and 6.5 assists.