KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Brett Brown is reminded that the changes he made to the 76ers’ starting lineup require a high level of tolerance and patience in the NBA seeding games.
“There’s a little bit of pain that you go through,” the coach said. “In periods of the game, you certainly say, ‘Do you just give Ben [Simmons] the ball back?’”
But Monday night’s contest against the San Antonio Spurs will mark the second straight game that Simmons starts at power forward. The Sixers the ball out of his hands somewhat last month when Shake Milton took over the point-guard duties during training camp for the NBA restart.
“I’ve seen so much good with Ben,” Brown said of the position switch.
The coach pointed out Simmons’ offensive performance in Saturday’s 127-121 loss to Indiana in the seeding-game opener. Simmons finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Defensively, though, he had a tough time guarding Pacers forward T.J. Warren.
But while Simmons was solid offensively, Milton struggled on both ends of the court. The Sixers can only hope that he will erase memories of that game against an undermanned Spurs squad playing in their third game in four nights.
Milton failed to score a point in 19 minutes, 17 seconds of action, and struggled when defenders pressured him while handling the ball. He missed his lone shot attempt and finished with 1 rebound, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, and 5 fouls.
The Sixers were at their best when Simmons had the ball. But giving up on Milton as the starting point guard after one game could destroy the young player’s confidence. That’s where patience comes in.
“Whether it’s trying to persevere and grow Shake,” Brown said, “whether it’s the distribution of how you actually use Ben Simmons, all those things are always on my mind.”
Monday’s game marks the second of eight seeding games for the Sixers to figure things out before the playoffs. However, don’t be shocked if a decision to stick with the changes are made before the latter part of the seeding games.
“So walking that line or persevering and patience versus gut feel, you like it or you don’t,” Brown said, “that ecosystem is my job.”