Sixers Playoff Rotation: Who’s In and Who’s Out?
The Sixers are currently sitting half of a game up on the Brooklyn Nets for first place in the Eastern Conference. With a 39-19 record on the year, the team has tallied the fourth-highest win percentage in the NBA at .672, only trailing the Jazz, Suns, and Clippers.
The Sixers have been supplying all-around great basketball from the whole team throughout the year, whether it’s coming from the starters or the bench players. Come playoff time, the rotation of players shrinks, to just 5 starters and 3-5 bench players. With the Sixers having their best chance to win the finals since 2001, the playoff rotation efficiency is going to be more important than ever.
The 5 Starters, Obviously
The most obvious part of the rotation, the five starters for the Sixers. Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid have been the most elite starting 5 in the league this season when all healthy. The team is 20-4 when all five starters start
Joel Embiid is the MVP of the league, Ben Simmons is the DPOY, and Tobias Harris is having the best season of his career. Danny Green has really stepped it up for this team after getting some heavy criticism to start the season, now shooting 41.8% from three on the year. Seth Curry has also given you valuable minutes this season, shooting 41% from three as well. There is no concern with the current starting five for the Sixers, and that’s what makes me so confident going into the playoffs.
The big move that the Sixers made at the trade deadline, and man was it a good one. We’ve only seen George Hill play two games so far for the team, but I can already tell he’s going to play a huge role off the bench in a championship run. George Hill played a fantastic second game with the team.
In 23 minutes coming off the bench, he finished the game with 11 points, 2 assists, shot 80% from the field, and 2/2 from three. The most heartwarming part about watching George Hill play for the Sixers was finally watching a true consistent point guard dribble the ball up the court, put it through his legs, and hit a step-back three. It’s felt like an eternity since we’ve had someone like that. George Hill is going to be giving us valuable minutes come playoff time, due to his veteran leadership and his ability to create shots.
When’s the last time you had this much fun watching a Sixers player play defense? Matisse Thybulle is a straight-up pest every time he steps on the court. He’ll take your wallet, your lunch money, your girlfriend, and still have a smile on his face after he does it. Matisse Thybulle is one of the most talented defenders I have ever watched, and he brings so much to this Sixers team.
We all know who the team’s eventual ECF matchup could be, and we know how many elite players they have on that team. We all know his defense will be fine for the playoffs, but his offensive impact makes this team so much better all around. Matisse Thybulle nailing his offense over these last 14 games is so big for me, strictly for my confidence in the playoffs. If Tisse can give me a solid 8-10 points off the bench every game, this team is going to be in fantastic shape.
We all want Joel Embiid to be able to play 48 minutes every game, but obviously, that can’t happen. Dwight Howard has been very good for the Sixers this year, and (mostly) everything we’ve needed out of a backup center. Dwight is averaging 6.7 PTS, 8.3 REB, .9 BLK while shooting 58% from the field on 17 MPG. We’ve seen Dwight struggle at times, and we know that can get ugly.
But when he’s playing confident, blocking shots, grabbing every rebound possible, and catching alley-oops, he’s everything this team needs out of a backup center, and more. Dwight will bring you good play for the playoffs, but I also think his importance will rely heavily on his energy. Getting the team fired up, screaming after dunks, celebrations on the bench, and more. Play is important in the playoffs, obviously, but no teams ever win staying silent the whole game. Dwight Howard will bring you that backup center impact, but he will also supply the vibes.
Does Furkan have the greatest pump fake of all time? I’m not gonna be the one to say no! Furkan Korkmaz has blown me out of the water over the last 10 games. Averaging 12.2 points, shooting 45% from the field, and 47% from three, Korkmaz has been playing fantastic, meaningful basketball for the team.
“I’ve been through a lot of tough stretches. I’ve been in this organization for four years, and I’m glad the last two seasons, I’m really showing myself, and I’m happy to help the organization. That makes me really happy personally. I’ve been through a lot of things, overseas, here, but finally, I found my role and I’m giving something to this team.”Furkan Korkmaz recently after a win
Other Sixers have praised Furkan, including Ben, saying he’s easy to play with, and he loves playing with him. Ben also praises Furkan’s defensive improvement, and how it’s played such a big role in his game. His 6’7 body and 6’10 wingspan make it easy to get in players’ faces quickly and efficiently, and that’s what he’s been doing over the last month. Furkan Korkmaz closes out the consistent playoff rotation to me, with Doc running a 9 man rotation.
Shake or Maxey: What’s the Deal?
Right now, I don’t see Shake Milton or Tyrese Maxey getting any meaningful minutes for this team come playoff time (that could always change, depending on the last 14 games of the season). Shake has been playing pretty bad basketball lately, averaging almost two turnovers per game, with under 10 points per game. He’s sort of looked lost recently, which has never really been the case with him. Shake is a hot and cold player, and hopefully, he heats up when we need him the most.
Tyrese Maxey has been giving you some great minutes recently, but I still think his playoff minutes will be cut due to unfamiliarity with professional playoff basketball. Tyrese is still a guy I think you could see at times though, being that sort of “spark” guy, to surprise teams and sort of throwing them off. While anything is bound to change over these last 14 games, don’t expect Shake or Maxey to get a ton of impactful minutes in the playoffs.
The playoff rotation is always something you look forward to seeing, and coaches tend to start using them with a few games left in the regular season, just to get a feel for things. With Doc Rivers running a nine-man rotation with the Clippers last season, this is my expected lineup for the Sixers come playoff time. With nothing guaranteed, things can change within a blink of an eye but expect to see these nine players giving you valuable minutes when the game really matters. The Sixers have the team to win an NBA Championship, and it all comes down to the matter of how bad they want it.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline / USA Today Sports