‘I Keep Saying’: Doc Rivers Reveals Sixers’ Biggest Advantage

Ben Simmons Doc Rivers

Getty Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers confers with Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris.

Looking at the Eastern Conference standings can hide the bigger picture. On the surface, the Philadelphia 76ers own the top record and what appears to be a veteran bunch.

But that’s a wrong assumption to make. People forget how young this Sixers’ team is, according to Doc Rivers. On Monday, the head coach reminded everyone that his two All-Star players are 27 (Joel Embiid) and 24 (Ben Simmons). And that’s not even including 28-year-old phenom Tobias Harris.

“I keep saying, I think when people look at our team, they look at our record but they do forget how young we are,” Rivers told reporters. “Our stars are young. Our stars are 27 and 24. We are a young team that’s winning, but we expect more winning in the future so we have to understand they’re young and try and treat them as old as possible.”

Rivers was answering a question about the addition of George Hill when he brought up his team’s youth. It’s an interesting point as the Sixers chase that old crew up in Brooklyn: James Harden (31), Kevin Durant (32), Kyrie Irving (29) — a basketball geriatric ward after adding 32-year-old Blake Griffin and 35-year-old LaMarcus Aldridge. The Sixers can’t forget what they’re up against once the playoffs start.

The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Sixers!

Rivers Talk Playoff Rotation, Center Position

Rivers seemed to hint at a return date for Embiid after Monday’s practice, mentioning that he would be back to his normal center rotation in two games (April 3 versus Minnesota). If that’s the case, then the depth at center would greatly increase with Dwight Howard returning to his backup role and Mike Scott back mostly to DNP status.

The Sixers might even carve out a niche role for 6-foot-9 rookie Paul Reed who has been wowing teammates with his energy at practice. The Orlando native is only averaging 8.6 minutes per game, but he could work his way into Rivers’ rotation with continued effort and contagious hustle.

“You obviously can’t play everybody but what I love about him is how hard he plays,” Rivers said. “He has a competitive gene. That can’t be taught. He has it. It’s in him. So you feel comfortable throwing him in any situation. And he may make mistakes but he’s going to compete and sometimes that is an edge that may take you over the top.”

Seth Curry Compares Sixers to Mavericks

Seth Curry has been watching his new teammates in Philly elevate their games from beyond the arc. Guys like Tobias Harris (40.9%), Furkan Korkmaz (36.6%), Danny Green (40.6%), Shake Milton (30.3%) have been lethal this year while youngsters Isaiah Joe, Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey have flashed promise at times.

Curry was asked if he’s ever been surrounded by this many great shooters in his NBA career and immediately brought up last year’s Dallas Mavericks team. That team featured Curry, Courtney Lee, Delon Wright, Tim Hardaway, Dorian Finney-Smith, J.J. Barea and others. The Mavericks finished 10th in the league at 36.7% from deep.

“This is another good one,” Curry said of the Sixers. “We have all the pieces we need to be a really good team.”

And the addition of Hill is only going to raise their three-point shooting to another level in the playoffs. He will re-join the team on April 3 but won’t play right away.

“That’s another good player added to our roster, to our rotation,” Curry said. “You need as many bodies as possible come playoff time. You never know what injuries might take place, hopefully he can get back healthy soon and get back with the team.”

Read More