Putting A Brand on the Sixers

Fact: Even with the addition of Elton Brand, the Sixers -- Donyell Marshall and Kareem Rush off the bench notwithstanding -- still aren't blessed with an array of knockdown shooters.

Fact: Despite that, the plan is to generate a significant portion of their offense from the perimeter.

In a lengthy conversation Wednesday, coach Maurice Cheeks said, ''You'd love to have knockdown shooters, but our game last year was to catch the ball, put it on the floor, get to the rim, get to the foul line. At times, they're going to have to make shots -- all of them, and with Elton some of those shots are going to be a little easier. That's not to say they're going to be easy, because sometimes the wide-open shots are the most difficult to make. But you don't have to stand out there and shoot, shoot, shoot; you can get to the rim; we did that as well as anybody in the league.''

At the same time, Cheeks said he has no concern about point guard Andre Miller at 32.

''Some of his scoring will go down because he doesn't have to take on the load he did last year,'' Cheeks said. ''The way he plays lends itself to being able to continue at the level he's been playing. He's a very efficient player, and he'll continue to play that way.''

Cheeks touched on some other pertinent subjects, including--

* Losing Jason Smith to season-ending knee surgery: Smith, entering his second year, was being projected as a changeup backup center and forward because of his ability to score from the perimeter. He worked on his aggressiveness in the summer, and by all accounts was making solid progress. ''That's a big blow,'' Cheeks said. ''His first-year jitters were out of the way, and he had a chance to be a more established player. But his injury gives others -- Reggie Evans, Marreese Speights -- a chance. They're not the same type players, but when someone goes down, someone else gets a chance to step up.''

* The value of a refurbished bench loaded with experience in Marshall and Theo Ratliff, and to a lesser extent, Rush and Royal Ivey: ''It's a good thing to have guys who have played before, who understand, who have been in a lot of situations, who know how to play,'' Cheeks said. "We played on emotion last year and got a lot of benefit out of it, but these older -- not old -- guys will play on experience.''

Chemistry: ''I hope there's some carryover from last year,'' Cheeks said. ''The enthusiasm we had will still be there. Every player I've talked to has said he's excited about getting started. But the other teams understand the way we played, and they'll be ready for us. There won't be any surprises. We'll be tested right from the jump.''

For more of the interview from today's Daily News, click here.