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Rotation Trust Level: Marquee games expose issues with depth

While there is room to question Doc Rivers’ usage of his bench, the reserves haven’t instilled confidence since the All-Star break.

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The 76ers kicked off a tumultuous post All-Star break stretch of the season, going 1-2 in their first games back against the Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. The team turned in two subpar efforts, coming up with some fourth quarter heroics to comeback against the Grizzlies, but mistakes and poor shooting doomed a similar comeback against the Heat.

The way the Celtics game played out was all too familiar, as Philly dominated with the starters on the floor behind a 41-point performance from Joel Embiid, but got demolished by the Celtics’ bench before a Jayson Tatum three at the buzzer ripped the Sixers’ hearts out.

As Doc Rivers makes more tweaks to make his lineups more playoff ready, it’s that time of the week to ask, how much trust do you have in the Sixers’ rotation?

Georges Niang

It was a rough month for Niang as a whole, as he shot 22 percent from deep in February. The problem when Niang is not hitting shots is that he is too physically overmatched to defend, rebound, or create off the dribble effectively at his position. The Sixers need him hitting about 40 percent of his threes at all times. These issues came to a head in the Celtics game, as Niang was put in a blender by Boston’s athletic wings.

Niang presents a similar problem the team had with JJ Redick, in that they are extremely dependent on spacing from a shooter who can be a defensive liability. Whether Niang will be playable in playoff series against non-Celtics opponents remains to be seen. I personally have my doubts, but if Niang is going to have a cold shooting stretch, the Sixers would much prefer it comes now than in a couple of months.


How much trust do you have in Georges Niang?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Little to none
    (128 votes)
  • 48%
    Eh, we’ll see come April
    (340 votes)
  • 33%
    A lot
    (238 votes)
706 votes total Vote Now

Shake Milton

If the past few games are any indication of what the playoff rotations will look like, Milton is shaping up to be the odd man out. He is down to about 10 minutes per game, and only played a two-minute stretch against the Celtics. Rivers said he was tightening up his rotations in the second half of that game as the reason Milton barely played, despite the fact that Milton’s two minutes came in the second half.

Milton fading out of the rotation isn’t a huge shock. He’s been pretty quiet offensively the last month and has never made a huge impact on the defensive end on the floor. Still, I’d feel a lot better about bringing Milton off the bench in a playoff series than Niang, given Milton’s physical abilities. He at least possesses length, athleticism, and ball-handling that could help him from being played off the floor.


How much trust do you have in Shake Milton?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    A lot
    (209 votes)
  • 44%
    Meh, we’ll see come April
    (273 votes)
  • 20%
    Little to none
    (128 votes)
610 votes total Vote Now

Jalen McDaniels

A solid, if not, quiet week for the newcomer as he continues to figure out his role on this team. The Sixers are trying to feature his athleticism as they rolled out an ATO designed for a McDaniels lob.

It may have been the juxtaposition with Niang, but McDaniels’ defense was essential in the Celtics game. The challenge now is fitting him into the offense so that he can be trusted on the floor in big minutes.


How much trust do you have in Jalen McDaniels?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    A lot
    (401 votes)
  • 58%
    Meh, we’ll see come April
    (652 votes)
  • 5%
    Little to none
    (66 votes)
1119 votes total Vote Now

Paul Reed

It wasn’t Bball Paul’s most spectacular week, but it does appear that the backup center role is finalized. Doc Rivers told reporters before the Heat game that the plan is for P.J. Tucker to primarily back up Embiid in the playoffs.

That’s a look the Sixers have gone to in big games this year, and it’s had some of the most success with Embiid off the floor. Reed’s role for the rest of the season is just to eat up innings, and he’s capable of that. He didn’t light the world on fire in any three games this week, but the Sixers weren’t hemorrhaging points because of him on the floor. He didn’t look great against Boston, but that seemed to be a product of the lineup he was out there with.


How much trust do you have in Paul Reed?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    A lot
    (533 votes)
  • 43%
    Meh, we’ll see come April
    (516 votes)
  • 11%
    None, get PJ in there
    (133 votes)
1182 votes total Vote Now

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