It’s Brett Brown who I feel most sorry for. He had a very nice gig as Gregg Popovich’s lieutenant in San Antonio with at least one more ring coming his way. A decent sideline coaching his adopted Aussies in the summer. And a general opportunity to savour the good times in the NBA from the best seat in the house.
What’s an ambitious man to do though when offered a promotion and a sizeable salary increase? Turn it down? Bet Brown, on occasion, wishes he had opted out of leaving the Spurs to taking over the Philadelphia 76ers.
With a career record as a head coach of a miserable 19-79 – and a share of the record in the bag for most consecutive losses within one season (26) – there’s another 16 reasons to give the Sixers playcaller our sympathy.
And number 17 may arrive tonight when Brown takes on his old team and moves, seemingly unstoppably, towards seeing the Sixers move to within two defeats of the all-time worst winless start to a campaign. It has been painful indeed.
To his credit, over a year and a bit in which every victory has been treated as an aberration, the man tasked with guiding a crew that barely betters a collegiate side has remained the optimistic, wringing the utmost out of the talent available.
There’s just not much. Especially now that his leading scorer Tony Wroten, putting up a lamentable 17.9 points per game, is out for a while. Somehow, the 76ers are still managing an average of 90.8 while conceding 105.7 but there’s no sign that the genetic engineering of GM Sam Hinkie can be confounded.
If there is a ray of light, it’s that during December, Philly gets a crack at Boston, Charlotte, Orlando and Utah, all of whom are bouncing along the bottom as well.
But they all will feel confident of heaping more woes on Brown’s shoulders. As will the Spurs, who start as 1.07 favourites after winning seven straight and tightening their defence to give up a mere 92.4 points per night.
Popovich, no doubt, will offer Brown a reassuring embrace. But go easy? Not a prayer.
Best bet: Go under 195.5 total points in Philadelphia-San Antonio at 2.12.