COMMENTARY | Rookie Michael Carter-Williams almost had a triple-double (22 points, 12 assists and nine steals). Evan Turner scored 26 points and had five assists. Spencer Hawes added 24 points and nine rebounds.
Former superstars Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, Julius Erving and Moses Malone were in the house. So were former owner Pat Croce and rap artist Meek Mill.
But one big name lost in the shuffle of the Philadelphia 76ers' 114-110 stunner over the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia was Brett Brown.
The team slogan this season is "Together We Build," and on opening night the Sixers' 52-year-old rookie head coach laid and cemented the first brick in the team's rebuilding project that began during the offseason.
After the win, Brown deflected the attention and shined the spotlight on his players.
About Carter-Williams: "We don't want to get his head too big and we want to keep him grounded, and that is all true. But you need to step back and say, 'Look at the stats.' Look at his impact on a game and a stat sheet where there are incredible, high numbers in some areas," he told csnsports.com.
About his young team: "It's early. We have this in perspective. But those signs were real. To go down to a team like Miami and then find some chemistry and toughness to get back in it is a fantastic sign," he told philly.com.
But what was also a fantastic sign is the fact that Brown started to build the Sixers an identity when things fell apart during the game against the champs.
The Philadelphia 76ers came out hot. They hit their first 11 shots of the game en route to a 19-0 lead in the first quarter. They led 33-14 after one quarter.
Then reality hit.
The Heat put up 45 points against the Sixers in the third quarter. The best 3-point shooter in league history, Ray Allen, caught fire, nailing four 3s in the final two minutes of the quarter to give Miami a 94-85 lead.
No worries, though. Brown put on the hard hat and, on the sidelines, and started to build.
He preached to his young guys what he had preached from Day 1.
Play tough defense. Box out. Share the ball. Take open looks. Drive to the hole.
Nothing extraordinary. Just fundamental basketball like he was accustomed to seeing and teaching while an assistant from 2007 to last season with the San Antonio Spurs.
In the fourth quarter, the Sixers just hung in there. Every time the Heat tried to pull away, the Sixers answered.
With a little over 2 minutes remaining in the game, it happened. Hawes hit that open 3-pointer, and 30 seconds later he made the decisive layup in the lane for the 109-108 lead.
Brown laid the block. Call him Brett "The Builder."
Dwayne C. Nelson lives in Philadelphia and has been a Sixers follower since the days of Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones. Follow him at dcntweets.
More from this contributor:
- Sports & Recreation
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Allen Iverson
- Brett Brown
- Spencer Hawes