Sunday will feature two Game 7s in the NBA playoffs, as the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets will square off for the right to face the Golden State Warriors in Western Conference Finals, while in the East, the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers will battle to see who will go against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The latter game may also determine who coaches the 76ers next year.
One report this weekend states that Sixers coach Brett Brown needs to win Game 7 to keep his job, while going on to say that a trip to the NBA Finals could be necessary for Brown to remain Philadelphia’s coach.
Brown “needs an N.B.A. finals berth to keep his job. Brown, I’m told, has little chance of surviving a second-round exit,” The New York Times‘ Marc Stein wrote this weekend.
Kyle Neubeck, who covers the team for Philly Voice, followed up with 76ers sources and reported that “no one is focused on anything other than Game 7 on Sunday night, and any declarations about what they will or won’t do in hypothetical scenarios are simply speculation.”
Brett Brown, a former San Antonio Spurs assistant, has been the 76ers’ coach since 2013, and led the team through the lengthy, radical rebuilding period that was known as “The Process.” Brown is the only NBA head coach that Sixers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have ever known, and he has helped shepherd the team back to contention.
Philadelphia has been part of multiple major trades this year, bringing in free agents-to-be Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, which has created the perception that the team is going “all in” on a championship run this season. Butler, Harris, and J.J. Redick are all free agents after the season, and the team has an extension decision to make on Ben Simmons.
The team defeated Brooklyn in the first round and has had an up-and-down series against Toronto, getting blown out in Game 5, but winning Game 6 decisively at home on Thursday night. Sixers star Embiid has dealt with illness during the series, in which Toronto was favored going in.
The 58-year-old Brown, due mostly to the years he coached while the team was rebuilding, has a career record of 178-314 as a head coach, although he has led the 76ers to 50-win seasons the last two years, ending the team’s long playoff drought in the process. Brown also spent much of last offseason as the team’s interim President of Basketball Operations.