Brett Brown has been under plenty of scrutiny this season, but the Sixers' Game 2 win over the Raptors may have been his head coaching masterpiece.
After Kawhi Leonard scorched his team for 45 points in Game 1, Brown adjusted by showing the three-time All-Star a lot more of Ben Simmons and a few double teams.
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Pascal Siakam also had his way in Game 1, but Brown made an adjustment there as well, using Joel Embiid to guard his fellow Cameroonian.
Brown also wasn't afraid to switch up his rotation, cutting it down to essentially seven guys - with a little Jonah Bolden sprinkled in - and using Greg Monroe as his backup center.
For a coach that was lambasted last season for failing to make adjustments in the second round vs. the Celtics last season, Brown took a positive step forward in his second postseason run as head coach.
"I love it. This is my favorite time of the year to coach," Brown said after practice Wednesday. "To revisit 12 years of playoff life I had with [Gregg Popovich] and now be able to call upon those experiences and share them with my team … to game plan, to coordinate a coaching staff's focal point, to delegate, try to lead and bring it together - this time of year is as exciting as it gets in the job that I have."
But it wasn't just Brown who made adjustments from Game 1.
Jimmy Butler had a rough night in the loss. He was encouraged by his teammates to be more aggressive and look for his shot more. He did that and then some Monday night.
Butler was by far the Sixers' best player, playing hard-nosed defense and pouring in a team-high 30 points - including 12 in the fourth quarter. A big adjustment for Butler was taking more threes. He went 4 of 10 in Game 2. The 10 attempts were the most he's ever taken in his NBA career.
It's not something he loves doing, but he understands that he may have to do it in this series.
"I don't like shooting threes," Butler said. "They just told me [it was the most threes I've ever taken]."
Was it an adjustment or just an example of taking what the defense gives him?
"A little bit of both," Butler said. "I think my guys were like you need to be a lot more aggressive, but like I said, I'm going to continue to play the game the right way. If I'm open, I'm going to shoot it. If not, I'm going to pass it. I'm always looking for the open guy, trying to get my teammates going, but I think here and there, maybe you do take a few more threes."
An adjustment that still needs to be made is one that gets Embiid going offensively. Whether it was his knee, Marc Gasol's defense or gastro intestinal issues, Embiid didn't look like himself Monday night.
With that said, he made two huge plays down the stretch. He hit Butler for a huge three out of a double team and made a sensational move on Gasol for a huge basket with 24.3 seconds left and the Sixers clinging to a lead.
But through two games, Embiid is just 7 of 25 for 28 points. For a guy who averaged 27.5 points a game and has been called the "crown jewel" of the offense, that simply will not get it done. Gasol has had Embiid's number throughout his career. Embiid has never reached 20 points in any matchup against Gasol.
While Embiid would like to get going, don't expect him to force anything.
"I've been in these type of situations before. I'm going to figure it out," Embiid said. "I'm not too worried about it, but at the end of the day, I'm going to do whatever I'm asked to. If it's setting screens and rolling to the basket or find guys when I'm double or triple teamed, I'm going to keep on doing that. I'm not going to force the issue because I'm not averaging the same amount of points I was before. If I only have to take five shots a game, but also make sure that I make the right decisions, that's what I'm going to do."
For the Sixers' sake, let's hope Game 3 adjustments lead to Embiid getting more than five shots.
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