Pain builds character.

That's basically what Brett Brown had to say regarding Joel Embiid following Philadelphia's gut-wrenching loss to the Raptors in Game 7 in Toronto on Sunday night.

Embiid was caught on camera walking back to the locker room with tears streaming down his face after Kawhi Leonard's last second launch over Embiid bounced its way around the rim and ultimately through the net to sink the Sixers season as the buzzer sounded.

"It’s going to be a life memory," Brown said. "As painful as it feels now, it will help him. It will help shape his career. It will help give him greater clarity of what this time of the year represents… It’s hard, it’s hard to be the last man standing. To see him have the emotion that he has, and he’s one of many in that locker room, it is painful for all of is. But with Joel, he’ll look in the rear view mirror and remember this. He’ll come out better, and smarter, and stronger, and more aware of what it takes to play longer than we have been able to play."

Brown's words might seem hollow following such a crushing defeat, but they are far from cliche. Players - and teams, for that matter - in the NBA rarely find success in the postseason without first tasting defeat, often multiple times. It took Michael Jordan nearly a decade to win his first title. Same with LeBron James, Kevin Durant. The Raptors team that just eliminated the Sixers has made the postseason for six consecutive seasons and has yet to make it to the Finals. These things take time.

Embiid and the Sixers will undoubtedly be back in the postseason in the near future, and when they are, they will have an experience bank to utilize, as they will be able to apply lessons learned from this series.

Jimmy Butler had high praise for Embiid, Simmons

Sixers forward Jimmy Butler had some high praise for his two young, All-Star teammates following Game 7 on Sunday.

"With those two young guys, they have so much potential to be great," Butler said. "And the best thing about them is that they want their teammates to be just as great as they are. They're constantly working. They're constantly studying on how they could be better, how they could help other guys be better.

"Those are the type of cornerstones you want in an organization. They compete, they hate to lose, and they bring it every single day. I have nothing but good things to say about both of them. Obviously, I know they're going to continue to get better. They're going to go down in history, and they're going to do some special things in this league."

The possibility exists that Butler has played his last game alongside Embiid and Simmons (and that's kind of how it sounded as he went out of his way to pile up the compliments) as he is set for unrestricted free agency this summer. But that's a topic he isn't interested in discussing, yet.

"I'm not worried about that right now," Butler said about his NBA future. "We just got through losing. I don't want to talk about nothing except for basketball."

Butler - and the Sixers - can delay the questions about their intertwined futures, for now. But soon enough, it will be time for answers.


Follow Michael Kaskey-Blomain on Twitter @therealmikekb.



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