The Philadelphia 76ers dropped a nail biter to the Milwaukee Bucks, their second high-profile loss in as many games.
While they have been successful overall with James Harden on the roster, it seems like they are struggling to knock off some of the better teams in the league. As the regular season concludes, it won’t really matter all that much as the Sixers have a high seed in the playoffs all but guaranteed, but it’ll definitely be something to watch going forward.
Going against Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Bucks is always a difficult task, but it gets even harder when he drops 40 on you. Letting the Bucks superstar get to that number isn’t a recipe for success, and the Sixers will need a way to defend him if they want to beat him in a playoffs series.
Newly signed center DeAndre Jordan didn’t play in the loss, but instead of going with young big man Paul Reed, coach Doc Rivers opted to play the veteran Paul Millsap and use him to defend Giannis.
The result wasn’t pretty, and Sixers fans are just about fed up with Rivers’s coaching.
Fans Call for Reed, Rip Rivers
In the postgame press conference, Rivers said that he “almost” decided to go with Reed as the backup to Joel Embiid, but opted for Millsap instead.
“I thought Millsap in the first half was good,” he said. “I thought in the second half he struggled. Didn’t like DJ [DeAndre Jordan], we almost went with Paul Reed. In Milwaukee that was a tough matchup for Paul on Giannis. The play I hate the most was at the end of the third we were supposed to match up, we were supposed to guard Giannis and we know we were supposed and we allowed that to happen.”
Some people are baffled as to why Rivers won’t give Reed some play, and have criticized him greatly for it.
“I can’t believe the 6’7″, 37-year-old Paul Millsap isn’t the answer against Giannis,” said Bleacher Report’s Bryan Toporek. “Truly shocking stuff.”
What’s even more shocking is NBA stats show Giannis scored 15 points when Millsap was the primary defender despite being defended by him for under two minutes. That number is obviously inflated by fast breaks and the like, but it’s clear Millsap wasn’t the answer.
Millsap came over in the Harden trade, and at 37 years old, his best playing days are definitely behind him. On the other hand, Paul Reed is just 22 and his time still hasn’t come with the Sixers.
Will Reed Get a Fair Shake?
Although Reed gets sporadic playing time and he very well could’ve struggled against Giannis, it’s clear he has a bigger future with the team than Millsap does.
Fans have already voiced their concerns about Reed potentially leaving for greener pastures and having a better career there, similar to Christian Wood. Some fans argue Rivers should just give Reed playing time because it doesn’t matter if the team is still losing the game.
Yes, if Paul and [Charles] Bassey are bad, let us see how bad they are,” wrote Reddit user YaleoverNUS. “It won’t take much for us to find out. No harm since we are losing these games anyway.”
It’s the time of the year for the Sixers to be cutting down their rotation for the playoffs and figuring out what they have. If things continue to go at the current pace, then it seems like the Reed could be the odd man out. It’ll also be interesting to see what happens with Jordan going forward considering he didn’t play in the loss either.
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