The old saying goes “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, and after an unexpected loss in Game 1 the Sixers should do exactly that with their starting five.
The Philadelphia 76ers best lineup all season long has been their starting 5, and it was the best lineup on Sunday. All five Sixers starters had a positive plus/minus. While every Sixers player off the bench had a negative plus/minus. Only one player had a negative plus minus that was in the single digits off the bench (minus Shake Milton who only played one minute).
Not a single Hawks starter had a positive plus/minus. Out of the team’s starters Bogdan Bogdonović had the best plus/minus with zero. All five of Atlanta’s players off the bench had a positive plus/minus.
The Sixers best stretch of the game came in the final 4:42 when the team was down 116-99. They went on a 16-0 run to cut the lead to 3 points after a Joel Embiid layup with 1:01 to go. In that final stretch the it was the starting 5 on the floor, with its aggressive trapping defense.
Four minutes and change is a small sample size to determine the best lineup for the Sixers moving forward. The Sixers best lineup during the regular season, based on NET Rating (minimum 60 minutes played), is Philadelphia’s starting five. The NET Rating for Simmons, Curry, Green, Harris, and Embiid was 14.0 during the regular season.
With all five of them on the court this postseason it has only been better. The starting five’s NET Rating is up to 36.1 in five games together. That is currently the best lineup out of every team in the playoffs, minimum 25 minutes played.
Yes, Trae Young had his way for most of Game 1, especially with Danny Green guarding him, but the starting lineup is the best unit the Sixers have. The issue is not the starting lineup for the Sixers. The issue is stopping Trae Young.
Adding Matisse Thybulle to the lineup would hurt the offense too much with spacing. The Hawks will be able to double Embiid more effectively with Thybulle on the floor. The second year wing shot 30% from beyond the arc this year. Danny Green shot 40% from three this season. Adding Thybulle to the starting five would just clog the paint too much with two non-shooter in the lineup.
Thybulle will not, and should not lose minutes just because he does not start over Danny Green. He has played at an All-NBA Defensive level all season, and he should guard Trae Young when he is on the court.
Inserting Thybulle into the starting five, will take too many valuable minutes away from the Sixers best lineup.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire