Sixers Lineup Change May Be ‘Permanent One’ Going Forward

De'Anthony Melton, Joel Embiid, James Harden

Getty Joel Embiid #21, De'Anthony Melton #8 and James Harden #1, Philadelphia 76ers

Since replacing Tyrese Maxey with De’Anthony Melton on January 15 against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Philadelphia 76ers still have not lost a game. The team has won every game since changing up their lineup, which has helped vaunt them to the no. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference standings. In light of their success, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic believes this new starting lineup could stick around.

“Mixing and matching might be the plan moving forward, but the group with Melton starting alongside Embiid, Harden, Tobias Harris, and P.J. Tucker is now up to plus-12.8 points per 100 possession net rating this season. This feels like the most common starting lineup going forward, if not the permanent one,” Hofmann said.

Head coach Doc Rivers said on January 15 that the Sixers would play one of three starting lineups going forward, and which one they play would depend on who the Sixers match up with.

“We told our team that’s three lineups that we’ll be using for this point on,” Doc Rivers told reporters, per Ky Carlin of SixersWire. “Some nights, it’d be to match up to them. Some nights, it’ll be to make them match up to us.”

At full strength, the Sixers have started the five-man lineup of Embiid, Harden, Harris, Melton, and Tucker every game they can. Only time will tell if Doc lives up to his word or if he’ll stick to this one particular starting lineup.

Lineup Change Was Tyrese Maxey’s Idea

While confirming what the starting lineup would be going forward, Rivers admitted that swapping Maxey for Melton was Maxey’s idea due to his shortcomings with Harden as the team’s starting backcourt.

“Tyrese actually texted me about this in the part about him,” Rivers told reporters, per Carlin. “I didn’t go to him. He went to me, which was really nice.”

Maxey then went on to more or less confirm what Rivers had said while saying that though he believes he’s good enough to start, he believes several players on the team also deserve that role.

“Yeah,” Maxey said. “I mean, sometimes, you gotta be the bigger person. I felt like it was kind of trending toward that way, but I’m a professional at the end of the day. I feel like I am a starter in this league, but I feel like our team is so good that I think we have multiple people starting.”

Analyst Projects Three Possible Starting Lineups

Zack Kram of The Ringer projected what the other two starting lineups could be for the Sixers going forward besides the one they’ve already played. He also stated which two could be better for the Sixers going forward.

“Although (Rivers) didn’t specify what they are, I’d guess they’d break down as:

“-Harden, Maxey, Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker, and Embiid, with Melton as sixth man
-Harden, Melton, Harris, Tucker, and Embiid, with Maxey as sixth man
-Harden, Maxey, Melton, Harris, and Embiid, with Tucker as sixth man

“That first lineup is how the 76ers began their season and offers the most traditional alignment, but the second and third might offer the most long-term promise.”

It’s been barely over a week since Rivers implemented this change, so things could remain the way they are, or Rivers may stick to his word. It will all depend on how the Sixers fare going forward.

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