The 76ers began their stiff four-game stretch on Sunday with a home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Beforehand, coach Brett Brown was asked how he would prepare his team for tough games against the Grizzlies (13-8), at the Toronto Raptors (Wednesday) and a home-and-home against the Detroit Pistons (at Detroit on Friday, back in Philly on Monday). It will mark the Sixers’ first four-game stretch against quality opponents with Jimmy Butler on the roster.
The Raptors, at 20-4, possess the league’s best record. The Pistons (13-7) are behind the Sixers with the Eastern Conference’s fourth-best record.
“It’s the same thing,” Brown said. “It’s defense and defensive rebounding. All of the stuff you know I would say. … Defense interests me the most.”
But one can assume that the coach might have mentioned the integration of Butler against a good team.
“Sure,” Brown said, “but when you ask me what matters most, that ain’t it. It’s how we are guarding. How are we rebounding.”
Focusing on defense is going to dominate film sessions, practice, and discussions for a while. The Sixers want to be elite defensively.
The Sixers’ previous 10 opponents each took a non-winning record into Sunday’s matchups, bookending the two games against the Grizzlies.
Heading into Sunday’s game, the Sixers have scored 30 or more points in 40 different quarters. That was tied for fourth in the league behind the Milwaukee Bucks (52), the New Orleans Pelicans (48), and the Toronto Raptors (45).
The Sixers had scored at least 30 points in the first quarter 14 times. That was tied for the league lead with the Bucks. They scored 26 on Sunday night.