The Sixers‘ plan to use Joel Embiid at power forward with Jahlil Okafor at center is off to a terrible start, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The new alignment takes Embiid away from the basket on offense, where he isn’t comfortable, and leaves Okafor to protect the rim on defense, which he isn’t equipped to do. “This is a work in progress,” Embiid said. “I’m not sure why we changed it. But I’m going to do whatever they want.” Pompey points out that the team was playing its best ball in two seasons, with back-to-back road wins, before that was derailed by the lineup change. “We decided to do this as an organization to see if it has a chance for working,” said coach Brett Brown. “How long we [keep] doing it? I don’t know. But we are going to go on trying it, certainly [Sunday against the Nets]. I think we can all step back and make a better assessment after that.”
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Nerlens Noel is doing everything he can to get traded out of Philadelphia, states A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. Blakely added that the Celtics are among many teams that are watching the situation with the Sixers closely. Noel complained to the media Friday after seeing just eight minutes of playing time in a loss to the Lakers.
- The Celtics are 8-3 when coach Brad Stevens‘ preferred starting lineup is all healthy, but he hasn’t been able to find the right bench combination, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPN. Boston is losing ground in the second quarters of many games, and the three-guard lineup that Stevens sometimes favors has been particularly bad.
- Knicks center Joakim Noah played just 11 minutes in Saturday’s loss at Denver, notes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. He was pulled from the game early after having trouble keeping up with the Nuggets’ pace in the high-altitude setting. After signing a four-year, $72MM deal over the summer, Noah is averaging just 21.2 minutes and 4.4 points per game. “We’re not getting off to great starts. That’s not on Jo. We’re trying to find the right combination to get us going,” coach Jeff Hornacek said.