It’s no secret that the 76ers have had chemistry issues.
How else can you explain them being the Eastern Conference’s sixth-seeded team despite all the preseason hype? The latest acknowledgement of those issues came from Tobias Harris last week on ESPN’s First Take.
Glenn Robinson III senses things are improving.
He’s noticed a change since the Sixers acquired him and Alec Burks in a trade from the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 6. The team has bonded in team Zoom calls during the NBA stoppage for the COVID-19 pandemic. Robinson credits Harris for making sure players communicated with each other.
“I think that from where I came in for just the three weeks that I was here ... [before the stoppage], we are way more connected ... even though we haven’t been together,” he said Thursday in a Zoom call with reporters. “I think that’s really important and, honestly, I’m really excited about that.”
The message established during the team calls was to be professional, take care of your business, handle what you need to handle, and come back in shape. Robinson said coach Brett Brown commented, “You guys get yourselves to a B, and I’ll get you to an A when I get down to Orlando.”
The Sixers are one of 22 teams participating in the NBA restart at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The Sixers will travel to Disney’s “bubble” site July 9 and participate in training until July 29.Then, they’ll open their eight-game regular season on Aug. 1 against the Indiana Pacers.
“I think, just from talking to all of the guys, seeing all of the hard work that they are putting in, I think we are going to be ready to go,” Robinson said. “And I think this is definitely what being a professional is about. It’s how do you come back to a training camp with just a month or two of time? Where’s your focus level at? Have you been watching film?”
He said doing those little things will take the Sixers to the next level.
“We have the pieces,” Robinson said, ”and we just got to form that mentality, and just continue.”
No one would have criticized Ryan Broekhoff for opting to take this summer off.
The Australian shooting guard last played in an NBA game on Feb. 8 with the Dallas Mavericks. The 29-year-old’s wife has an autoimmune disease, which makes her high risk for COVID-19 complications.
So it would have been totally understandable if Broekhoff stayed away from the sport for the rest of the summer and made sure he, his wife, and their 1-year-old son remained safe amid the pandemic.
He will tell you it hasn’t been an easy decision to come back.
“It’s taken a lot for us to be able to get to this point where we signed,” Broekhoff said of the substitution contract he signed with the Sixers last weekend.
“We spoke to [general manager] Elton [Brand] and spoke to coach [Brown] and just wanted to get some more information of how the bubble would be down in Orlando, and if anything happens at home, what are my options to get back and take care of my family.”
If the Sixers reach the NBA Finals, they would stay in Orlando’s bubble for three months.
“I think the opportunity in the end was too hard to pass up,” said Broekhoff, who spent five seasons playing in Europe before signing a two-year deal with the Mavs in 2018.
He couldn’t pass up the chance to work with Brown, who in November started his second stint as the Australian national team coach. Broekhoff and Sixers point guard Ben Simmons are expected to play for the Boomers in the 2021 Olympics.
But there’s another incentive for playing this summer.
“I still feel like I’m on the cusp of finding somewhere steady in the NBA,” Broekhoff said, “and hopefully that will be Philly.”
Like his countryman, Simmons is ready for the league’s “bubble'-like environment in Orlando.
He’s put a lot of trust into the NBA and veterans such as LeBron James and players’ association president Chris Paul to put players in a position to remain healthy and complete the season.
“Also, this is our job,” Simmons said Thursday. “...I don’t have any problems with people who want to sit out. Everybody’s personal stuff is different. So I can’t speak for anybody else, but personally ... I want to get out there and play.