Doc Rivers’ Hilarious Nickname For Sixers Small-Ball Lineup

Michael Rubin, James Harden

Getty Michael Rubin and James Harden attend Michael Rubin's MLBPA x Fanatics party at City Market Social House on July 18, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

While the Philadelphia 76ers were unable to secure a win, one of the notable takeaways of the matchup against the Bucks was the Sixers’ newfound lineup versatility. The struggles of Joel Embiid were noteworthy and neither Montrezl Harrell nor Paul Reed was able to make a positive impact. This caused Doc Rivers to go a new direction and play P.J. Tucker at the center position. This small-ball lineup has been something teased during the preseason, and it played a vital role in getting the Sixers back in the game.

When asked about this rotation by media members before the matchup with the Spurs, Rivers jokingly referred to the small-ball lineup as the “Hamptons lineup.” Tucker’s positional versatility is a major weapon the Sixers have this season. Rivers admitted he needs to be cautious of how many minutes he counts on the 37-year-old moving forward. Tucker has averaged 36.0 minutes per game through the first two games and his impact has been clear.

The Hamptons Parties:

The nickname of this unit is a play on the members that attended the white-out party in the Hamptons hosted by former Sixers minority owner Michael Rubin. The businessman and Fanatics CEO has part-owned the Sixers and New Jersey Devils since 2011 but finalized the sale of his ownership stake earlier this week. Rubin has a star-studded friend group that includes James Harden, Joel Embiid, Lil Baby, and Meek Mill.

As Rivers alluded to with his pregame comment, several members of the Sixers were present at Rubin’s white-out party in the Hamptons this summer. This was in addition to seemingly all the other stars in the NBA and several well-known celebrities as well. Harden, Embiid, Tucker, and Maxey all made their presence known at the event.

Small-Ball Rotation:

While it is too early to be reading heavily into statistical trends, the impact of the “Hamptons lineup” has shown some intriguing potential. Rivers went to the small-ball lineup to start the fourth quarter against the Bucks. The switchable defense and increased pace of play led the Sixers to climb out of the double-digit hole and bring themselves back into the game. The team also gave Tucker a few minutes at center during the first half of the matchup with the Spurs.

The identity of this Sixers team will continue to be built around Embiid, but this ability to go in a different direction will hold value throughout the season. Pairing the thunderous style of Embiid’s massive frame with the lightning of this second unit will trouble teams. In past years the Sixers have struggled to survive the non-Embiid minutes throughout a game due to his two-way impact. However, they have never had a player like Tucker who brings a level of toughness and floor-spacing as a backup big man.

The return to full health and lost weight has played a larger role, but this small-ball lineup has also contributed to Harden’s success. The star guard has artfully navigated to his spots and effectively poured in points for the Sixers. His combined 66 points through the first two games should have Sixers fans thrilled. The chemistry he has with Tucker is clear and these types of lineups will continue to be tinkered with as the Sixers look to fully find their stride.

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