ORLANDO – If they hadn’t already known, 76ers coach Brett Brown made his team aware that it was the Eastern Conference’s fourth-place team during Thursday’s video breakfast meeting.
“It was the first thing out of my mouth,” Brown said before Thursday night’s 118-98 victory over the Orlando Magic at Amway Center.
Wednesday night’s victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, combined with losses by the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers, enabled the Sixers (now 41-30) to move up two spots. The Pacers (41-31) and Wizards (40-31), both dropped a spot, to fifth and sixth, respectively.
The top four teams at the end of the regular season host a first-round playoff series. But Brown’s message was to not get complacent. They headed into Thursday night’s game with 12 regular-season games remaining.
“We respect the journey,” Brown said, “and we don’t intend on letting what we built so far go easily. We are aware of where we’re at. We want to hold onto where we’re at. And we want to play good basketball.”
The Sixers want to play with a rhythm that equates to winning in the postseason. That also was Brown’s message.
Homecoming for Redick and Simmons
Thursday night’s game was sort of a homecoming for JJ Redick and Ben Simmons.
The Magic selected Redick with the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 21, 2013. Meanwhile, Simmons moved from Australia to the Orlando area in January 2013 to attend Montverde Academy as a sophomore. He was a three-year standout for the prep powerhouse. Simmons was regarded as the nation’s No. 1 player in the Class of 2015.