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The birth of Playoff Paul

It has been a long road, but the Sixers finally have a backup center they can unleash with confidence.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Paul Reed had played 151 career playoff minutes entering Saturday, most coming as Joel Embiid’s primary backup last postseason, but Game 1 against Brooklyn was when BBall Paul snagged a Moon Stone and made his final evolution.

Playoff Paul has arrived.

In Philadelphia’s 121-101 win over the Nets, Reed recorded 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, four rebounds, and two steals. He was a plus-five in 13 minutes. The performance from Reed and the rest of bench unit was a refreshing change from what had typically doomed the franchise in the past, although his success came as no surprise to Paul himself:

Every minute from Amir Johnson, Greg Monroe, et al. over the years is firmly in the rearview mirror after seeing Playoff Paul pull this move off in live competition.

Even MVP favorite Joel Embiid had something to say about that play while singing Reed’s praises after the game.

“He [Paul Reed] was great. Like I said, him and P.J. [Tucker] with the extra possessions. I thought he did great screening, rolling and playing out of that dunker. Getting easy passes and finishing. He made a great move behind the back that we probably don’t want to see again. I’m just kidding. He can do whatever he wants. Whatever works, I guess he’s got to keep doing it. He was great.”

Joel can joke, but you could see in the moment how stoked he was for his backup.

It wasn’t just one outlier play from Reed, however. About a minute later, Reed slammed home a reverse dunk off a feed from James Harden for an and-one.

The sequence led to booming BBall Paul chants throughout the Center, just what we all expected as we readied for the team’s playoff run.

Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Reed certainly appreciated the love from the Sixers faithful.

Beyond the splashy plays, though, Reed did the little things to help his team on the court. He snagged offensive rebounds and brought energy on the defensive end. On this play in the first half, Paul timed his help perfectly and used his length to disrupt the pass on the feed into the lane.

Head coach Doc Rivers, who wasn’t always the biggest Paul Reed cheerleader in the past, had plenty of kind words for the 23-year-old’s play on Saturday.

“I thought Paul Reed and Tuck [P.J. Tucker] had an amazing impact on the game. I thought those two guys, they got everyone...I thought our energy guys played a big part in this game. De’Anthony Melton, Jalen [McDaniels], Paul Reed, Tuck, I thought those four guys had a huge imprint on why we won tonight.”

While Reed maintained, “That’s what Paul Reed do,” teammate P.J. Tucker felt he had something to do with his younger teammate ramping his game up:

“I cussed Paul Reed out at halftime. I felt like he didn’t have the energy, he wasn’t getting there on time and doing a lot of things. He came out in the second half and responded, so I told everybody I was going to curse Paul out every halftime. (Laughs.) He got a lot of rebounds, his energy was good, he was in help, he had good switches, the finishes. He was just night and day. We need him. I’m aways going to stay on him, because we really need him.”

Maybe Tucker can be the Grand Marshal on the Paul Reed Victory Tour. From what we saw on Saturday, it’s coming soon to a city near you.

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