The Philadelphia 76ers looked a bit different in Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers. With everybody healthy, most assumed coach Doc Rivers would turn to his regular starting lineup: James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker and Joel Embiid.
That wasn’t the case. Rivers inserted De’Anthony Melton into the starting unit instead of Maxey. Considering the Sixers have had defensive issues with Maxey and Harden together in the starting lineup, inserting the defensive-minded Melton makes a lot of sense.
After the win, Rivers revealed the starting lineup will be tinkered with as Philadelphia moves forward on its title quest.
“We told our team that’s three lineups that we’ll be using for this point on,” Rivers told reporters. “We were going to do it in the Utah game, but Tobias was out, but they know the lineups, I’m not going to share them, but there’s three different lineups we’ll use on different nights.”
The Sixers have a versatile roster. Multiple players can do different things out on the floor. Melton, for example, can provide top-notch defense while being able to knock down open looks from deep. Maxey can lead the second unit with his elite offensive ability.
These lineups that Rivers and his staff will come up with will depend on what the game offers on a nightly basis.
“Yeah, that’s what the three lineups are,” Rivers continued. “Some nights, it’d be to match up to them. Some nights, it’ll be to make them match up to us.”
There is one possible issue with this strategy: player frustration. Players are creatures of habit. They like the consistency of knowing what their role is day in and day out. Moving forward with this three starting lineup idea, Rivers and his staff need cooperation from everybody.
“Maturity,” said Rivers. “Really. That’s the key. Like if we can handle it, it’ll be really good for us because I think we have enough guys that we can do that with, but we may find out that it doesn’t work well and go to one lineup, but I do think for the best of the team, it works but you’re right. It doesn’t work with every team, and we’ll see how it goes.”
It will be interesting to see which starting lineup the Sixers roll out on Tuesday when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers for the third game of their five-game road trip.
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