The 76ers began the week at 23-14, and won all three of their games, to improve to 26-14, let’s run through some quick hits:
Jimmy Butler’s “Confrontation” With Brett Brown:
Before we get into this thing, let me take care of some housekeeping stuff.
Jimmy Butler was sidelined for two contests this week with an illness. Butler was a full participant in Monday’s practice, and plans to return to action on Tuesday against the Washington Wizards, according to Kyle Neubeck. The 76ers won both games sans Butler.
Now, onto the supposed “confrontation” with 76ers head coach Brett Brown.
Last week, the national media reported that Jimmy Butler was unhappy with his role with the 76ers and that he contested Brown’s system during a film session in Portland. It was reported that some witnesses described this confrontation as “disrespectful.”
This was all the national media needed to make this into a circus, and to further the narrative that Butler is toxic to his teams.
Unsurprisingly, this looks like it was simply blown out of proportion. I know, I too am shocked, that the national media would ever do something like this.
Brown has denied the claim that this conversation was disrespectful and reportedly told some within the organization that he had no problem with it. Brown has further explained the situation throughout various media sessions over the past few days.
“I think confrontation brings people together, provided that it’s done respectfully and it’s real. I like the dialogue. When you’ve got a head coach that says ‘This is what I see, what do you guys see, what do you think?’ You’ve got to be prepared for an answer, and I like it.”
Butler also refutes the original story. He had this to say following Monday’s practice at the media session:
“If you’ve followed me long enough you’d know if I was being confrontational because I don’t think that I could hide it very well.”
Butler echoed that he enjoys being able to offer his opinion to Brown, even if it was not asked for.
If you aren’t convinced by either person’s testimony that this was no big deal, Ben Simmons Joel Embiid, JJ Redick, and Jonah Bolden were among players polled about the incident. All of them said that the conversation was not anything out of the ordinary for a film session.
This story was twisted into a negative when I strongly disagree. Not only was the conversation completed in a respectful way, but I believe these hard conversations are crucial to a team’s development.
I think most basketball fans can agree, Butler’s usage within Philadelphia’s offense has been somewhat out of the ordinary.
The free-flowing system that Philadelphia runs on offense, is not what Butler has been accustomed to playing in during his entire NBA career.
There are things that still need to be worked out, and I would rather have Butler voice his concerns now, rather after he signs a massive extension.
Butler becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season, and regardless of where he signs, he is going to get a massive deal.
Now is the time to see if this can really work long-term before the two sides are tied to each other contractually for years to come. Personally, I would hope Butler continues these types of conversations.
The media will continue to cover this supposed strenuous relationship between Butler and the 76ers, but there isn’t anything to see here.
Ben Simmons Attempting More Jump Shots:
I am no stranger to criticizing Ben Simmons. In fact, last week I complained about yet another timid performance from Simmons against the Celtics on Christmas Day.
However, Simmons may have a new year’s resolution, and it’s only fair to give credit where it is due.
Hold on… Is this what we think it is!? Was it Ben Simmons' new year's resolution to start taking jumpers??
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) January 2, 2019
At this point, it is not about Ben Simmons making jump shots, it is about taking them. Joel Embiid had this to say to the media this week about Simmons attempting more jumpers:
“I shoot 30 percent from three, but guys still jump when I shot fake and I don’t know why, especially because I said I hate shooting threes, but just because you take them, people are compelled to guard, so he’s got to keep on taking ‘em.”
I think this is a simple, and obvious conclusion to come to. It appears the 22-year-old, might finally be catching on. Simmons had this to say on his recent uptick of jump shots attempted:
“I just want to get better. I’m not really worried about the immediate outcome. I think it’s just something special to my game that I’m adding, and it’s one of those parts to my game that can really separate me.”
Coming to that realization might be the most important thing Simmons does this season. As I have harped on with Simmons’ development, I expected him to change his approach from last year to become more dynamic offensively.
Simmons understands the immediate outcome isn’t important, rather it will be his undying passion to always improve, that will separate him from the rest.
A Look Ahead:
The 76ers will play four games next, including a home-and-home with the Washington Wizards. Here is the slate:
Tuesday, Jan. 8: vs. Washington Wizards
Wednesday, Jan. 9: @ Washington Wizards
Friday, Jan. 11: vs. Atlanta Hawks
Sunday, Jan. 13: @ New York Knicks
It might feel early to be talking about the postseason, but the 76ers have to win each and every game they can to ensure a good playoff seed.
With the Knicks, Hawks, and Wizards all residing in the basement of the Eastern Conference, the time is now to get back on a roll.
Game of the Week: vs. Atlanta Hawks (Jan. 11)
This will be the second of four meetings with the Hawks this season, and the 76ers won their previous contest, 113-92, at the end of October.
In their previous contest, the 76ers got their first look at rookie Trae Young but held him in check. Atlanta Hawks Guard, Kent Bazemore, gave Philadelphia trouble last meeting, however.
On the other side of things, the Atlanta bigs will have their hands full dealing with Joel Embiid.
The center position for the Hawks has been somewhat of a revolving door this year, with Alex Len, Dewayne Dedmon, and John Collins splitting duties.
I expect all three to try their hand at slowing down Embiid, and it will take all of them to do it.
Ben Simmons had one of his best games of the season against the Hawks in their first meeting, tallying 21 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists.
The Hawks’ defense will have their hands full trying to stop Simmons in the open floor, and will now have to deal with Jimmy Butler on top of that.
The 76ers have had issues containing guards this year, and this game feels like it could be a trap game for Philly. Look for Bazemore and Young to have strong nights offensively against the 76ers poor perimeter defense.
I fully expect the 76ers to win games like these, especially with the addition of Jimmy Butler.
You can catch the game on your NBC Sports affiliate channel at 7 pm EST. January 11.
For all things 76ers, make sure to keep up with Basketball Society on social media. Talk to me personally on Twitter @PhillySportsMax, and I will see y’all next week.