Without Bynum, Sixers need Brown's toughness
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When the Sixers signed Kwame Brown, it wasn’t a move that garnered high praise.
The former No. 1 overall pick, now in his 12th season, has averaged double-digit points only once in his career -- 2003-04 with the Wizards when he also averaged a career-high 7.4 rebounds.
Brown’s defense, experience and toughness are now a necessity on a team without its star center Andrew Bynum.
“When I signed Kwame, I said he could defend and rebound; I said that from moment one,” Doug Collins said after Saturday’s practice. “Whether he scores one point or none, he is not the first pick in the draft at age 30. He’s Kwame Brown, who does what he does best. And that’s why we want him on our team and that’s why we need him healthy.”
“The bottom line, he is the biggest guy on our team,” Jrue Holiday said. “He’s our strongest guy. Having him out there, I know, for me, I feel tougher.”
Brown played in two preseason games before straining his left calf, which led to him being sidelined for six regular-season games, while it continues to hamper his jumping abilities.
Last season with Golden State, Brown missed all but nine games with a tear to his pectoral muscle, so the big man’s game-shape is still a work in progress.
“At some point, you just have to go out there and do it,” Brown said. “We don’t have time for me to get in shape during practice because, obviously, guys can’t practice with so many games in a row. I figured it’s to my benefit, and the team’s benefit, for me to just go out and play as long as I can and as much as I can, give what I got.”
Brown played nearly 24 minutes against the Jazz on Friday night, the longest he’s played since Jan. 7, 2012, when he played 31 minutes. Three days after that game in January, he suffered the torn pectoral muscle that forced him to miss the rest of the season.
For Brown, more minutes doesn’t necessarily result in more offense, but being paired with Lavoy Allen, who’s capable of making a 15-foot jumper, Brown gives Collins a lineup that features four scorers, while continuing to have size and toughness.
“Lavoy is a physical guy, too,” Collins said. “Lavoy does it in a very quiet way. When you see guys play against Lavoy -- when you watch the tape, guys are hitting him and bouncing off. When he and Kwame are on the floor together, I don’t know that there are two bigger, stronger guys out there at the same time.”
Fortunately for the Sixers, Allen returned to his rookie-season form the last two games. Allen has a combined 24 points and 14 rebounds in his past two outings after a dismal pair of games in which he was held scoreless and totaled only two boards.
If Allen and Brown can give the Sixers an effort similar to Friday night’s, it could go a long way for the Sixers against the Cavaliers Sunday. Cleveland has two big-men who can give teams fits in Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson.
“I don’t want to play small lineups,” Collins said. “In the end, you can do that for short periods of time, but you have to rebound the ball. You have to defend the paint and you have to do that with big people.
“So my wishes and prayers are that Kwame is going to stay healthy. All the sudden, I am starting to see the Lavoy that we had last year, and that’s exciting, and if we can keep Kwame healthy, that is going to be a big, big part of us being able to win ball games.”
The season is still in its early stages, but the Sixers have to remain loose.
“Everybody is so uptight,” Brown said. “This is a long season. You lose one game and each game, it’s like reinventing the wheel. You are going to lose some games. Stay focused. Stay positive and keep going hard. The work will take care of everything if you do the work.”E-mail Dei Lynam at firstname.lastname@example.org.