Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Crawford, Thomas, Thybulle

The Sixers are testing a new starting lineup of Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid during the NBA’s resumed season in Orlando, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes in his latest mailbag.

The adjusted lineup includes playing Simmons at power forward, adding another floor-spacer in Milton to complement the group. Simmons is still expected to be heavily featured on the ball, with veteran Al Horford coming off the bench in the frontcourt.

Philadelphia holds the sixth-best record in the East at 39-26, disappointing onlookers who pegged the club as an elite defensive team with an original starting five of Simmons, Richardson, Harris, Horford and Embiid.

The Sixers now hope to use Simmons in a point forward role with added shooting, though the team must compete with clubs such as Milwaukee (53-12), Toronto (46-18), Boston (43-21) and Miami (41-24) in a crowded Eastern Conference to reach the NBA Finals.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Jamal Crawford has a unique opportunity to impress with the Nets during the NBA’s restart, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. Brooklyn signed Crawford to a substitute contract earlier this month, with the team missing the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, Taurean Prince and Nicolas Claxton in Orlando.
  • Along with Crawford, forward Lance Thomas is also excited for his new chance with the Nets, Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. Thomas, 32, signed his contract last week and practiced with the team on Saturday. “It was great to get out of quarantine,” Thomas said. “Sitting in the room for about six-to-seven days, I was itching to get back on the court. I reacclimated with the guys and I was excited for the opportunity.”
  • Sixers forward Matisse Thybulle continues to make a strong impression on the team as it gears up for the resumed season, Lauren Rosen of writes. “Matisse has been incredibly disruptive defensively,” head coach Brett Brown said. “You just feel like his presence keeps people on their toes. He’s just been so elite.” Thybulle, 23, is averaging 4.7 points, 1.4 steals and 19.5 minutes in his rookie season. He was the No. 20 pick of the 2019 NBA draft after spending four seasons at the University of Washington.
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