Brett Brown on his first Philadelphia 76ers playoff win: ‘There is a lot more coming’
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat in 1st round of NBA playoffs
Gallery: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat in 1st round of NBA playoffs
PHILADELPHIA — For many, the first postseason win was a long time coming. The Philadelphia 76ers downed the Miami Heat, 130-103, on Saturday night for their first postseason win since 2012.
Brett Brown discusses Philadelphia 76ers 130-103 win over Miami Heat in NBA playoffs
There were many who suffered through the lean years. Players like Joel Embiid and Robert Covington. Various members of the front office and the administrative side of things. Sixers fans.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, though, might have suffered more than most. He won 75 games in his first four seasons in charge. He didn’t crack 20 wins in three of those. He guided incomplete rosters through bleak times and watched injury setback after injury setback for his presumptive stars.
So after a 52-30 season and a playoff win in his first try, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Saturday night’s victory dripped in meaning. But, Brown said, it doesn’t. There’s plenty more to come.
“I wish I could say that it’s the most significant or incredibly important,” Brown said. “They’re like your children. Every win you love, so the next game I’m going to tell you the same thing. There is something about playoff winning that’s different from regular season winning, but to anoint, delineate Game 1 as something [different], we’re excited to figure out how to get better.”
Brown said the only type of win that might feel a little different would be a series-clinching win. That could happen as soon as next Saturday in Miami. The Sixers looked that dominant in South Philly.
Brown’s fingerprints were all over the victory, too. Covington is the only player on the current roster who played in 2014-15, Brown’s second season. Embiid sat out that season with injuries. On Saturday, Covington, who went undrafted out of Tennessee State, played lockdown defense and chipped in a couple timely baskets. Brown said Covington is a testament to development in Philadelphia, where the fifth-year player has turned into a steady starter.
Brown also made a key adjustment after halftime, when forward Ersan Ilyasova replaced Amir Johnson at center in the lineup. The 6-foot-10 Ilyasova is a career 44.3 percent shooter on 3-pointers, and he pulled the Heat defense out of alignment, which opened the lane for Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz and the rest of the team’s slashers. Ilyasova finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.
The Sixers were down four at the beginning of the third. They were up 12 at the end of it. They scored 74 points in the second half. Even missing the team’s most dominant defender, Brown had the Sixers in position to pull away from the Heat.
Eventually, he allowed that he would be enjoying Saturday’s victory “a little tiny part that I won’t admit,” he said. “It’s only a little bit, and I really mean that.”
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Brown recognizes his first postseason victory as only a small step in the overall trajectory of a program that was torn down and rebuilt. The purpose of the moves that led to four tough seasons and five prominent draft picks — Embiid, Simmons and Markelle Fultz project as the future cornerstones — was done with the goal of winning a title, not a first-round game.
“I feel this group has something special in it,” Brown said. “We’re moving along, and we’re trending in tremendous ways. I look at the future of our organization with a healthy Joel Embiid, an improving Markelle Fultz and draft picks and cap space, but this is what I feel the most responsible for and excited for, so to navigate that path, that’s a long lens. This little thing that we’ve gone through, this is big, but it’s small in relation to what I just said. Sure, I am excited for our fans and our young team, but there is a lot more coming.”