WHEN BRETT BROWN gets a dose of what his professional life in basketball used to be like, he gets a little more philosophical about the game and how it should be played. Brown spent Monday night watching his former team, the San Antonio Spurs, dismantle the visiting Indiana Pacers by 106-92. In the process the Spurs improved to 24-5, including 16-0 at home. It was also the 21st time this season they've won by double figures.
The pass is king in Gregg Popovich's offense, where good shots need to become great ones with the extra pass. Brown absorbed it all, again, Monday, and it brought to the forefront in his mind how he wants his team eventually to play.
Right now, he wants pace and three-pointers. But after watching his former team, he said that it can't all be just that and that there needs to be some diversity at the offensive end.
"It's funny when you start studying stats. Some teams don't rely on (threes) so much, they just take good shots," Brown said. "Look at the analytics of say, Houston. And then look at the analytics of, say, the Spurs. Completely different. If you watched San Antonio (Monday), they make shots. They don't have to all be threes. We all get caught in this free throw, layup or three world that I think this thing is not coached by an abacus. It's not that. It's people. And good shots are good shots. And if you're open, you should take some. We've learned that long twos can be rhythm breakers and run breakers. You want to run, you just need a good shot. It's still, to me, about clean looks. We want to tilt toward open threes. We need our guys making some shots."
Insert joke here?
As good as it sounds and as easy as a team such as San Antonio makes it look, there are so many variables preventing the Sixers from doing just that. The legitimate inside threat of Jahlil Okafor is, at times, bottled up by the fact that outside shooting is suspect, allowing opponents to collapse on him without fear.
There's the ever evolving point-guard rotation, which includes Kendall Marshall, Tony Wroten and T.J. McConnell. But Marshall lacks the foot speed to guard, while Wroten entered Tuesday with more turnovers (24) than field goals (20) in his seven games, and was converting only 20 percent of his 15 three-pointers. Realistically, McConnell should be getting about half of the 25 minutes a game he's receiving.
And then there's Nik Stauskas, relegated to the bench lately as Brown tries to find a physical and defensive identity.
"I'm so consumed lately by we don't do what we started when I came here," Brown said. "We played with the league's best pace (possessions per 48 minutes) and then we dropped to third. We're slow right now. We don't run. When I started, we talked about that competitive, night-to-night competitive spirit. We brought a team to 12th defensively.
"We're not competing the way that I want to the last four or five games. So you look to get pace, you look at a competitive fight. Those things are the things that can help any of those guys play. I got to help them rediscover themselves. I have to remind them of what our program's values are, our standards are, what we've done. It's not rhetoric, we've done it. Nik is a part of that logical conversation. Lately, because I've been so upset with our defense, I go right to that. Something's got to give, and Nik took a hit. It's not anything etched in stone. This whole program is fluid."
And light years away from San Antonio, where Brown cut his NBA teeth. It is the place he calls Disneyland, the happiest place in the NBA. It's quite a ways away from Philly.
On Twitter: @BobCooney76