"I'm a skeptic", shooting guard JJ Redick said, though he further said: "The [tricks] are all good".
As for coming back next season, Redick hinted strongly that he will return. And something has nudged the Sixers into one of the most remarkably content rosters in the franchise's modern history. And it could continue for a while.
The Sixers' playoff exit is surely stinging, especially to an equally green Celtics team, but it doesn't appear as if Philly is going anywhere anytime soon.
Some observers didn't even expect the Sixers, a league laughingstock during their rebuild, to reach the playoffs this season. At the same time, LeBron James is still a threat anywhere he goes (we'll get to him in a moment), and the Toronto Raptors may tear everything down and start over. "I think we are just learning".
But overall, Brad Stevens is amused by the exterior angst. "You are always looking over your shoulder watching how they've chose to grow their program". With seven 3-pointers in the series, Baynes has more in these five games than in the other 409 games of his career combined, according to ESPN. If they don't win a championship this spring, they immediately will cite the benefits of postseason experience. As souvenirs go, taking pride in that is unlikely.
"It's a free group", Brown said. "It ends up the way it always ends up. That was my message to the players".
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For a team that won fewer than 20 games three times in the last five seasons, Brown isn't sugarcoating. Ben Simmons sat out last season as well, but burst onto the scene with 13 triple-doubles and is likely to beat out Utah's Donovan Mitchell for Rookie of the Year.
"It's hard to play here", he said. After a nail-bitingly close game, and giving up a four-point lead, the Sixers lost to the Celtics, 114-112.
Considering Embiid is just 24 years old, Simmons is 21, Dario Saric is 24 and 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz (a non-factor this year) is 19, the confident, young Sixers rightfully anticipate better playoff finishes to come. To a point, it worked. Redick had shot 46 percent in the regular season. Wilkerson, born in the Germantown neighborhood and now living in the Logan neighborhood, became a Sixers fan when Charles Barkley played for the Sixers in the mid-1980s.
Aside from his concerns over Tatum, Brown said repeatedly that he feels good about his players' mindset heading into another elimination game. I have a long way to go. "With Bryan, too, when I was in Toronto, Bryan was there, so we know each other. I'm grateful for the opportunity".
This didn't limit Simmons as a rookie as he averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game this year.
"For Ben, who had such a awful series at times, to show such class and be such a role model for kids like my son, it was remarkable", he said. "We have a lot of talented guys". "If Smart or Terry (Rozier) would've gotten fouls early, we would've been forced to play them extended minutes without a break".