5 large Sixers questions as Tyrese Maxey prepares to return to the ground

Apart from a loss to the Wizards, the Sexters are on a roll, and so they anticipate Tyrese Maxey to be again within the lineup as quickly as Friday’s recreation towards the Pelicans. A tough begin to the season has masked the truth that Philadelphia has been among the finest groups within the NBA for the reason that begin of November, and so they’ve obtained their most enjoyable younger participant again from a protracted absence. Do not feel like individuals must be a little bit extra excited?

If they are not, it is due to belief points constructed up over time, anger with the coach or some questions on how the crew will stack up as they march towards the playoffs. Listed below are some plot factors I am within the coming days and weeks.

What the hell ought to they do with PJ Tucker?

Tucker’s season wasn’t as unhealthy as many recommended, not less than not at first. The veteran ahead performed a crucial function on protection towards some high-profile opponents within the month of November, serving to hold the Sixers afloat regardless of accidents and absences. However it’s grow to be more durable and more durable to disregard Tucker’s non-existence on offense, other than some tough moments as a defender and rebounder.

A number of the stoop, although not all of it, might be chalked as much as a problem Tucker described as, “a lifeless hand,” the product of a pinched nerve in his dominant arm. It is one thing you could possibly catch watching the video games up shut or from afar, Tucker waving his hand in ache whereas strolling away from video games. However extra importantly, Tucker was surprisingly reluctant to let pictures fly. He’s averaging lower than three shot makes an attempt per recreation throughout the month of December and is taking pictures simply 34.4 % from the sphere (35 % from three) within the closing month of 2022.

It is easy to default to, “The Sixers should not anticipate manufacturing from an getting old participant,” and we are able to debate the deserves of his contract, however Tucker has seemed good (not less than offensively) to begin the 12 months. Small pattern measurement caveat, however in eight October video games, Tucker shot 57.1 % from the sphere, 50 % from three, and had a utilization charge (9.3 %) a lot nearer to his averages during the last half-decade. Tucker was much less concerned than he was with Miami final 12 months, however the Sixers not less than tried to make use of him as one thing aside from a stop-and-go shooter and screener.

Whether or not we are able to blame all of this on the harm or not, the Sixers want to determine a option to regulate Tucker and (not less than) get Tucker to take the pictures which can be there for him. The arduous half is doing that with out messing with the move of the rotation — shifting him to the bench is not precisely juicing your firepower on the second unit.

How typically will Sixers use a three-guard lineup?

I can hear many followers laughing on the above query on the fundamental premise that Doc Rivers is teaching the crew. “This is not the man for experimentation,” you say, and for essentially the most half we are inclined to agree.

However Rivers hasn’t been shy about the potential for needing a three-guard lineup when it issues, and with Maxey again, there’s extra justification to run that facet than ever.

“We will play three guards, we do each evening for essentially the most half,” Rivers mentioned at a latest observe. “We simply do not begin like that almost all nights. We prefer to go to that in video games. The one factor with the accidents, we did not work on our small, small lineup in any respect as a result of we did not have the guards.”

The “small, small lineup” Rivers is referring to right here is, circling again to our first level, a gaggle with Tucker on the 5 and Harden/Melton/Maxey on the ground. At the same time as they sputtered by means of some early losses, lineups with Tucker on the 5 had been an early vibrant spot, a gaggle of Harden/Melton/Home/Harris/Tucker main an enormous fourth-quarter comeback towards Milwaukee within the house opener.

There may be additionally latest proof that Rivers is severe about utilizing the multi-guard appears. Of their win over the Clippers final week, Philadelphia noticed the sport with a Harden/Milton/Melton/Harris/Embiid lineup. Maxey is smaller than Milton, which considerably modifications the defensive composition of the group, however a extra dynamic offensive participant who pressures groups in a manner that Milton doesn’t do in these eventualities.

The prominence of three-guard teams will seemingly rely upon the opponent, however it’s a disservice to the crew to not attempt them.

What ought to the Sixers do at backup middle?

I would say I fall firmly on Paul Reed’s facet over Montrezl Harrell within the backup middle battle. He is a youthful, extra versatile defenseman, must develop, and has proven professional offensive progress in matches and begins.

That mentioned, it has been an absolute massacre with Reed on the ground this season, and I perceive why Rivers has gone away from him lately. Philadelphia’s offense is plummeting by means of the basement with Reed on the ground – they’re 7.6 factors per 100 possessions worse than the league’s worst offense, the Charlotte Hornets. An optimist would say that is largely on account of lineup building and accidents, and they might have a degree. Dinging Reed as a result of, say, a Melton/Korkmaz/Home/Niang/Reed lineup is underwater is fairly foolish, and such appearances make up the majority of his minutes.

Reed performed simply 85 complete possessions with James Harden, the man finest certified to assist him on offense, however the issue is that these minutes had been an absolute tire hearth, within the backside one % of all NBA lineups in line with Cleansing The Glass monitoring. information Working by means of kinks is one factor, it is simply arduous to stump for Reed when the numbers are so dire, and the crew has carried out fairly properly with Harrell on the ground (unintentionally or not).

Within the finale, I think Tucker turns into way more pivotal to their plans right here. The Sixers will most likely simply must outplay groups when Embiid hits the bench, and I do know I am repeating myself, however the multi-guards might be crucial. We solely have 93 possessions from Harden/Maxey/Melton/Harris/Tucker this 12 months, however they bulldozed in that facet, outscoring the opponent by 21.9 factors per 100. Harrell and Reed are fairly good as play eaters, however the Sixers. most likely have to show to Tucker at this level when the video games actually matter.

What to do with Matisse Thybulle?

At the same time as somebody who watches and covers the crew day in and day trip, I simply can’t really feel Thybulle this 12 months. He was a poor shooter, extra foul-prone and fewer disruptive on protection in comparison with his final two years, and a relentless menace to waste the crew’s spacing when defenders get off him. Nevertheless, the numbers say the Sixers are incomes his minutes and incomes them simply. What provides?

I want I had a idea labored out to elucidate this, or that rewatching video games and sequences revealed one thing I did not catch in actual time. It may be so simple as Rivers having a very good understanding of when he is rolling and when he deserves a fast hook, capitalizing on his good nights and minimizing the injury he causes on a tricky outing. The even less complicated rationalization is that when you put Embiid and Thybulle on the ground on the similar time, groups will battle to attain a lot which you could’t assist however win these minutes decisively, even with the half-court offense points you may need. .

I haven’t got a lot of an issue with how Rivers dealt with Thybulle this 12 months, however I believe the Sixers ought to most likely make up their minds a technique or one other about him and his future. If he’ll be right here, you most likely owe it to your self to offer him a stable, constant function, as a result of it is not like Danuel Home Jr. was a pillar of manufacturing whereas pushing him away for alternatives. When you do not assume it is applicable to make use of him apart from spot responsibility, make a transfer by sending him elsewhere and let another person see if they will unlock him. Even along with his warts, he is one in all your fascinating commerce chips to (probably) transfer between now and the deadline. Taking part in him 11 minutes a recreation (and even much less in December) appears like a bizarre cramming that does not serve anybody’s long-term pursuits.

Can the Sixers resolve late-game execution points?

It is easy in charge Rivers for each drawback, however the Sixers have a former MVP and future Corridor of Fame guard working the perimeter assault, along with the league’s main scorer on the opposite facet of a pick-and-roll partnership. Rivers should not want to carry these guys down for Philadelphia to really run offense within the fourth quarter, even when I agree he must be a little bit extra energetic on mainly each entrance.

Having Maxey’s tempo and taking pictures on the ground ought to assist create some additional appears in finish recreation eventualities. However that can solely matter a lot if the Sixers proceed a latest development of (actually) marching video games down the stretch, abandoning the offensive ideas that led them into crunch time.

Comply with Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

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