ORLANDO – At a team dinner here Tuesday night, Brett Brown glanced around the restaurant, noticed the seating arrangements, and stopped to consider the ramifications and possibilities for the 76ers.
There was Jimmy Butler, fresh from a late-morning news conference in Camden in which he was glib and charming and testified to his own incredibleness, sitting between Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
But to hear Brown describe it Wednesday morning, hours before the Sixers' 7 p.m. tipoff against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center, this was no ordinary meal.
Now it falls to Brown — if the Sixers are to have a realistic chance of even reaching the Finals, let alone winning once they get there — to succeed where the pro coach who knew Butler best failed.
Beyond the question of whether he can design and implement an offensive system that allows Butler, a ball-dominant wing player who thrives in pick-and-roll situations, and Simmons, at his best and most breathtaking when he's leading a fastbreak, to complement each other, Brown has a simpler and maybe more demanding mission.
Those warm-and-fuzzy feelings from Tuesday's dinner had lingered overnight into Wednesday's shootaround, where Butler practiced with his new teammates, chatted with a member of the Sixers' medical staff about his diet, and planned to continue what had been an enjoyable first day at his new job.
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