As the Sixers look ahead to the Celtics matchup in the playoffs, Brett Brown will be faced with some tough decisions for who will make the cut in the rotation. Brown has been known to lean more heavily on veterans for key games, which could be bad news for guys like Matisse Thybulle or even Shake Milton.
The injury to Ben Simmons has obviously been a wrench thrown in the gameplan, but that will not be an excuse for putting a strategy on the court that will produce wins. Brett Brown will need to make a statement that he is capable of coaching a championship-caliber team in this series. While expectations may have shrunk some since the return to basketball, the series against the Celtics is still extremely winnable and all focus should be on that.
The Sixers regulars:
Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Josh Richardson will all need to produce at a high level and will be given the minutes to reflect this. Embiid’s health will be the biggest question mark for his minutes and being scratched for a game due to this is never out of the question. Embiid will have to perform at the superstar level that he is capable of if the Sixers are to have any sort of a chance.
Tobias Harris will be counted on as the most consistent scorer in the offense and it should be expected for him the quietly be in the running for the leading scorer on a nightly basis. With the Celtics having no big man capable of matching up with Embiid, they will likely double him in the post on a regular basis. Due to this, Tobias’ production will be extremely important.
Josh Richardson has had an up-and-down year and he will need to be at his best in the series. JRich will be in the conversation for leading the team in minutes on a nightly basis and he needs to make the most of those if the Sixers are to have a chance to advance.
There has been much talk about Shake Milton and his role on the team in recent weeks. His ascension into the starting lineup and growing role on the team has been rapid which is a lot to put on the plate of the 23-year-old. He has been inconsistent in the seeding games which will not cut it going forward. At his best, Shake helps the team a ton and fills a role that no one else on the roster fully can. His lack of experience is a concern and if he struggles it should not be expected for his leash to be too long. While it would be a surprise for him to lose the starting role, it should not be a shock if he is not on the court for the key moments of the game if he does not prove himself early on.
Perhaps the most controversial member of the Sixers, Al Horford will likely be the fifth member of the starting lineup. Big Al will fill the much-needed void for backup Center minutes, but it is no secret that his fit next to Embiid has been awkward at best. The injury to Simmons has opened the door for Horford to prove his value to the team and show the reason why the Sixers dealt out the massive contract to him last year. The fact that he will be in a Sixer uniform and the team is not preparing to match up against him is probably the biggest benefit he serves the team. Regardless, his leadership and experience were large reasons for the signing and now is the time for that to show face.
Key Sixers Bench Guys
Alec Burks has managed to establish himself as the most impactful bench player on the team. While positionally there is not an ideal fit he will likely sub in for either Shake or JRich. His ability to score the basketball in a one-on-one isolation situation as well as his 3 point shooting will be a major factor in the series. Landing Burks and Glenn Robinson III for 3 second-round picks may prove to be Elton Brand’s slickest move to date and it has been nice to see him find a role for this team. Look for Burks to be one of the first guys off the bench and provide what will be a needed offensive jump.
It is finally time for the Mike Scott Hive to wake up. After a solid season last year where he became a favorite amongst the team and Sixers fans, Scott was rewarded with a 2 year $9.8 million contract. This season has been a huge disappointment for Scott as his points per game fell from 7.8 to 6.0 and his 3 point game percentage fell from 41 to 36% in his time with the Sixers. In the recent time in Orlando, Scott seems to have found his role and has established himself as a small ball big-man. Scott has scored double-digit points in his past 3 games and has knocked down 3’s at an impressive 53.8% in the bubble. While his playing time was a question going into the time in Orlando, he has shown what he brings to the table and played himself into a role in the upcoming playoffs. As he loves to point out, he “ain’t no b****” and he should be counted on for some key bench minutes in the upcoming playoffs.
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