UPDATED: 6:30 p.m.
Manager Elton Brand said the team will begin a search process for a new head coach immediately.
The team that had aspirations to be the top seed in the East prior to the 2019-20 season — a team that was supposedly built for the playoffs — was bumped seven days into their postseason run, if you can even refer to it as such.
“Obviously the way our season ended is disappointing,” Brett Brown said after losing 110-106 to the Celtics on Sunday. “You can’t obviously phrase it any other way.”
It’s the first time since 1999 that the 76ers were swept in a playoff series. The last time it happened in the first round was 1989.
In their historic rivalry with Boston — not including their time as the Syracuse Nationals before becoming the Sixers in the ’60s — they had never been swept by the Celtics.
Sunday was a first for more than one thing, yet it was a last in a very important regard.
As things started to become less and less magical for the Sixers in the Disney bubble, Brown chose on multiple occasions not to discuss his future with the organization, which he’s been the head coach of for the last seven seasons.
After Sunday’s loss, Brown could only focus on the game, which got away from them after Tobias Harris’ scary head injury late in the third quarter — it turned out to be a left eye laceration with no concussion symptoms — as well as the end of this quick series and other defining aspects of the season.
Brown thought the loss of Ben Simmons to a knee injury — after he recently recovered from a back problem — really hurt the Sixers in so many ways.
A reporter asked Brown, “Do you ever think that we got to see you at your best with all the injuries and everything that you had to deal with?”
Last year, when Brown’s job was under speculation after the Sixers failed to go to the Eastern Conference Finals following Kawhi Leonard’s heartbreaking buzzer-beater, Embiid strongly defended the head coach.
Sunday, Embiid acknowledged that Brown will be a friend no matter what, but emphasized, “I’m not the GM. I don’t make the decisions.”
Embiid has been with Brown the longest of any Sixers player. Starting guard Josh Richardson just finished his first — and only — season playing for Brown in Philadelphia.
“He a good guy,” Richardson said. “He’s a good man. He means well.”
“We got to be comfortable in uncomfortable times and times of conflict and times where if I’m not doing my job, I want somebody to cuss me out,” Richardson said.
“From a spacial issue, from a team sort of design — that was an area that we needed to get done and I don’t believe I did that great of a job coaching that,” Brown said.
Whether that’s the fault of Brown or general manager Elton Brand — who, along with his front office, constructed this team — is a worthy discussion.
In the end, this Sixers team ended with a very quick playoff exit — the fastest in Brown’s three years of leading this team to the postseason.
“This season, to me, was riddled with an amazing abundance of injuries,” Brown said. “This season was a challenge trying to put people where they should’ve been placed.”