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Rotation Trust Level: Do Sixers have enough depth to get over second-round hump?

Everyone knows how deep the Boston Celtics are. Can the Sixers’ reserves rise to the occasion?

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

When the concept of this article was pitched to me halfway through the season, it was with this part of the season in mind. Not only are we gauging how much confidence we have in the Sixers’ bench, but how much confidence we have in a high-stakes playoff matchup.

The Sixers had their best regular season in over 20 years, but they still have to make it out of the second round (and go further than that) to truly be taken seriously.

Getting out of the second round would exorcise several demons, as they will once again match up with their biggest rivals: the Boston Celtics. This will be the third time these two teams will meet in the playoffs during the Joel Embiid era.

Beating the Celtics this year will be as difficult as ever, as both Embiid and James Harden have enormous question marks surrounding their health. This has been touted as the deepest Sixers team Embiid has had, but it still feels like the depth has to be perfect if they are to pull off a series win.

With that in mind, how much trust do you have in the Sixers rotation?

Paul Reed

The first-round series against the Nets was a bit of a coming out party for Reed in a national sense. Not only did the team have their best playoff minutes with Embiid on the bench they’ve ever had, but Reed managed to show off a couple of party tricks as well.

This culminated in a monster second half performance in Game 4 in Brooklyn, where he grabbed 15 rebounds in the absence of Embiid.

Reed doesn’t have the largest sample size against the Celtics. This season, he only played in the last two meetings, as Montrezl Harrell ate up those minutes earlier in the season. Despite Reed being far and away the best backup center option, it still does not feel set in stone.

He was impressive in the second half, but when Reed struggled in the first half of Game 4 Doc Rivers decided to switch things up and throw Harrell in there. Obviously this should not happen against Boston, but the center rotation could still get weird in this series if Embiid is not ready to go for Game 1.


How much trust do you have in Paul Reed in a Celtics series?

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    A lot
    (201 votes)
  • 20%
    Not a lot
    (51 votes)
252 votes total Vote Now

Jalen McDaniels

How impactful McDaniels can be in this series will go a long way for the Sixers’ chances. As someone with length and athleticism, he feels like one of the few players on this team who can match up well against the Celtics’ prolific wings.

The key for McDaniels is to be essentially more useful on offense than Matisse Thybulle was. While I often joke about McDaniels’ inability to finish lobs, it does feel like his chemistry with Tyrese Maxey is getting better in this area.

His jumper may be getting hot at the right time as well, as he finished with a 40 percent three point percentage as a Sixer in the regular season, albeit on hardly more than one attempt per game.


How much trust do you have in Jalen McDaniels in a Celtics series?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    A lot
    (145 votes)
  • 39%
    Not a lot
    (95 votes)
240 votes total Vote Now

Georges Niang

Now this is where it starts to get dicey. Rivers said he plans on starting his playoff rotation at nine guys, and shrinking it down as he sees fit. Injuries made the Sixers go a bit deeper than that against the Nets, but Niang was a part of that nine.

His struggles this year against the Celtics have been well-documented. His jumper was not falling in any of the four games, and he struggled to stay in front of pretty much anyone Boston put in front of him.

This poor matchup was highlighted on the Feb. 25 matchup between these two teams, when Niang was a -22 in a little over 12 minutes of action. The Sixers lost that game by three points.

While Niang’s shooting is an extremely valuable asset to the team’s offense when hot, it feels like the Sixers would be better off with an eight-man rotation, only bringing Reed, McDaniels, and De’Anthony Melton off the bench.


How much trust do you have in Georges Niang in a Celtics series?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    A lot
    (38 votes)
  • 84%
    Not a lot
    (204 votes)
242 votes total Vote Now

Danuel House Jr.

Evaluating House’s play against the Celtics season is a bit unfair, as he only really played in the season opener before falling out of the rotation for most of the season. He did appear in the team’s win against Boston in April, though he only played 48 seconds.

That’s how House has been used the past couple of weeks, as a defensive substitution at the end of quarters. It did not help that he was dealing with a non-COVID illness for a part of the Nets series. Still, if Rivers wants to go with a nine-man rotation, he should play House over Niang.


How much trust do you have in Danuel House Jr. in a Celtics series?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    A lot
    (76 votes)
  • 68%
    Not a lot
    (163 votes)
239 votes total Vote Now

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