One of the biggest questions surrounding the 76ers has to do with Brett Brown’s authority. Are the players, especially the principal ones, still listening to the coach?
Let’s face it: The Sixers (31-20), who take a three-game losing streak into Milwaukee for Thursday’s game against the Bucks (43-7), have been displaying bad body language and poor effort. A coach can often control those things.
Brown initially said yes to the question of whether the players are still listening to him.
“You’d be better off asking them,” Brown said after Wednesday’s practice. "When you speak to them, speak freely, and I understand the question. ... I’m not naive enough [not] to understand why you have asked what you have asked. But I answered it the way I answered it.
“I look forward to coaching them. When it gets to an epidemic stage, this thing you are talking about, I’ll admit that. I don’t [see that] at all right now.”
However, the Sixers often talk about what needs to be corrected after losses. And the same thing happens over and over. The players will say they don’t know their roles, and that’s evident by watching them play.
“We haven’t been winning,” center Joel Embiid said. “Our offense has not been good. But I always say, coaches aren’t out there to make shots for us. They don’t make plays.”
Embiid noted that the coaches can do a better job of setting things up. But, he added, the players are the ones who have to make the plays.
“From time to time, you don’t know what you are getting,” Embiid said. "I don’t know if I am going into the game and if I am getting the ball or not.
“But I should never [let it] affect anything. It starts on defense. We still got to do our job. Even if it’s not getting the ball some nights. You still got to go hard. You see I got to go out and play hard."
The Sixers, however, are underachieving.
The 137-106 setback to the Heat on Monday was their fourth straight road loss and 10th in the last 12 road games. And things aren’t about to get easier with the trip to Milwaukee.
Philly defeated the Bucks, 121-109, on Christmas Day at the Wells Fargo Center. Since then, the Bucks have won 16 of 18 games and the Sixers have lost 10 of 18. Both teams were among the preseason favorites to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. While Milwaukee has the league’s best record, the Sixers are a disappointing sixth in the East.
But Brown isn’t worried that the appearance that his players might have tuned him out -- could lead to his dismissal.