Ahead of their Game 7 showdown with the Toronto Raptors, a report surfaced that Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown would need an NBA Finals appearance to keep his job.
After losing 92-90 on a buzzer-beater by Raptors star Kawhi Leonard, that report picked up steam. The loss meant the Sixers fell in the second round for the second consecutive season, and it was not the type of finish the team envisioned when they acquired Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris during the regular season.
Joel Embiid, who had another All-Star season, has played all three of his seasons under Brown. When you consider his first two injured seasons, Embiid has spent a total of five years with the head coach.
During exit interviews Monday, Embiid offered a strong defense of Brown.
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"I was off social media. I heard about all these rumors and I thought it was (expletive)," Embiid said. "He's done a fantastic job. He's been there through everything and this year, I think he grew even more as a coach. It's hard when you've got five guys who can score the ball and do a lot of things on the basketball court. At the end of the day, it comes down to the players.
"He's an amazing coach, a better person, and I got a lot of love for him. If there is someone to blame, put it all on me."
Brown not only has the support of Embiid, but also Jimmy Butler, who only played under Brown for a short time after being acquired in November from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"I think he realizes how different of a human being I am. How I can be difficult at times, but I swear it's from the right place," said Butler. "He's a great dude. He works incredibly hard, so you got to respect that about him, and he's always thinking of how he can make everybody great.
"I think he's going to be here for a long time."
The Sixers now head into a summer of uncertainty, with Butler entering free agency and a lot of decisions to be made on many fronts.
Sixers Wire is part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.
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