PHILADELPHIA -- Elton Brand's first game in Philadelphia since the 76ers slapped the NBA's amnesty clause on him this past summer has special meaning for the Dallas Mavericks' power forward.
Tonight's tip-off at 6 at the Wells Fargo Center between the Mavericks (7-7) and Sixers (8-6) affords Brand another opportunity to see his family, who reside in the area. That means Brand can see the family's latest addition, daughter Mahala, who was born on Nov. 7.
"I'm leaving early so I get to see the family, see the newborn and see my wife and my son," Brand said. "I went for Thanksgiving and now real soon the baby will be about a month or two months old and they'll travel, they'll come out to Dallas.
"Being separated is very hard, but you've got to focus and just try to do your best while you're out here. Other than that, we're just going in there and trying to get a win."
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Brand spent the past four seasons with the Sixers and is fond of their coach, Doug Collins.
"Doug Collins is a great coach," Brand said. "He gets the best out of his players, but [tonight] he's the enemy. I'll say hi before the game, but it's definitely no love on the court. We're trying to win that game; we need a win."
As far as what type of reception he'll receive tonight from the knowledgeable but hard-core Sixers fans, Brand used a milk analogy to drive home his opinion.
"It's probably half and half," he said. "I'll get some good receptions."
Brand knows Philadelphia fans once booed Santa Claus.
"Right now what makes it different is they don't come out as much," Brand said. "That house isn't packed like it used to be. Dallas is packed, Chicago is packed, and even the [Los Angeles] Clippers later in my tenure they were packed. But Philadelphia definitely will support the team once they get going, though."
Brand helped the Sixers "get going" when they finished the 2010-11 season with a 41-41 record, then lost to the Miami Heat in five games in the opening round of the playoffs.
Last season was even better for the Sixers, who grabbed the Eastern Conference's No. 8 seed after posting a 35-31 record. The Sixers shocked the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs in six games, thus becoming just the fifth No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed in NBA history.
Philadelphia lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games in the second round, with Brand scoring 15 points before fouling out in Game 7, which the Celtics won 95-85.
"It was a great experience," Brand said of his tenure with the Sixers. "A young group, building. Game 7 in Boston, if we win that we're in the Eastern Conference Finals."
Point guard Darren Collison, who just returned to Indianapolis less than two weeks ago to play his former team, the Indiana Pacers, knows of the emotions Brand will experience once he enters the game tonight.
"It's going to be a little different feeling, but I think Elton is more experienced to know that he just wants to win," Collison said.
A stroll down memory lane, though, isn't totally out of the question for Brand; particularly because last season's playoff upset of the Bulls marked the first time the Sixers won a playoff series since 2003.
"That was a special season," Brand said. "The year before, getting back to the playoffs, was a special season. "So [the Philadelphia fans] definitely do support us. Great fans, great, great, great, great sports town."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760