Sixers swept by Celtics, Brett Brown out as coach

The Sixers’ season came to an end on Sunday as 110-106 loss capped off a sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics. It was an ugly and fitting end to a largely disappointing season. Game 2 felt like the turning point, as the Sixers slept-walked through a 128 to 101 loss. Their best effort came in game 3, stifling Boston on defense, only for late mistakes to let the game slip away.

Joel Embiid was easily the bright spot for the Sixers; he averaged 30 points and 12 rebounds in the four games. But the absence of Ben Simmons was glaring, as the athletic duo of Jayson Tatum of Jaylen Brown had their way on offense.

Unsurprisingly, head coach Brett Brown was fired by the team shortly after the loss. Brown coached the team for seven seasons, and his career record of 211-344 was largely due to coaching during The Process. Once Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were full time players, Brown managed back to back 50 win seasons in 2017 and 2018. The Sixers were a few bounces away from overtime in Game 7 versus the eventual champion Toronto Raptors last season.

Brown’s departure is not unexpected. Despite the recent success, the Sixers were routinely plagued by simple mistakes during Brown’s tenure as coach; turnovers and simple mistakes were all too common for a team as talented as Philadelphia in recent seasons.

Yet the firing of Brown, needed as it was by now, does not solve all of the issues for the Sixers. The contracts given to Tobias Harris and Al Horford last offseason, totaling over $61 million in salary next season, have become disasters. Harris has not taken a step forward as a scoring option in a meaningful way. and Horford has never really fit next to Embiid in a way that the team envisioned.  The contracts of each player now weigh heavily on the team’s salary. This is especially true in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans in attendance looks unlikely for next season, so teams around the league won’t want to take on additional salary. Trading either will be nigh impossible without attaching a pick.

The Sixers will have the 21st overall selection in the draft, but the pressure is high to select a player than can contribute on a rookie contract. The offseason will be abbreviated as well, due to the complications that COVID-19 presented during the current season. The NBA draft is scheduled for Oct. 16th, and restricted free agency begins three days late on Oct. 19th. The current projection is for training camps to begin on November 10th.

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