After Doc Rivers confirmed that the Philadelphia 76ers would be playing three different starting lineups from now on this season, Zach Kram of The Ringer previewed what he believes will be the three starting lineups and which two he believes gives, as he calls it, “the most long-term promise.”
While Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tobias Harris would remain the starters full-time, the other two spots in the starting lineup would alternate between the trio of Tyrese Maxey, P.J. Tucker, and De’Anthony Melton.
“The 76ers will now use three different starting lineups going forward, according to coach Doc Rivers, depending on the matchup. Although he 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.”
Thus far, Rivers has gone with the second lineup listed by Kram, which has helped the Sixers beat the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers on the road. Although, as Rivers has confirmed, the lineups will be fluid throughout the rest of the season.
Rivers Thoughts on Lineup Changes
After the Sixers defeated the Lakers, Rivers gave more details on his latest decision to have three different starting lineups.
“We told our team that’s three lineups that we’ll be using for this point on,” Rivers said, per Ky Carlin of SixersWire. “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.”
Rivers then explained that which team the Sixers match up against will determine which lineup gets played.
“Yeah, that’s what the three lineups are,” Rivers said. “Some nights, it’d be to match up to them. Some nights, it’ll be to make them match up to us.”
Rivers then revealed how this strategy could work out for the Sixers in the long run.
“Maturity,” Rivers said. “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.”
Maxey’s Thoughts on Lineup Changes
Being demoted to the bench would be tough for anyone, especially those who had been a starter early in their NBA career, like Maxey. Since last season, Maxey has almost always been with the starters, having started all but one game last season and having started 21 of the Sixers’ 25 games this season.
However, after the Sixers beat the Lakers on January 15, Maxey stayed positive about his new bench role while making it clear that he’s a professional and all he wants is to win.
“Sometimes you just gotta be the bigger person, I feel like,” Maxey said. “It was kind of trending towards that way, but I’m a professional at the end of the day, and I feel like I am a starter in this league. But I feel like our team is so good that I think we can have multiple people starting. So at the end of the day, you know, I think I played like 33 minutes. I mean, it is what it is, just gonna go out there and play, do whatever they need me to do to win, so we won. That’s what matters.”
Rivers confirmed that the change was Maxey’s idea because of his defensive issues with Harden.
“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.”