The Sixers may arrive in Orlando with more lineup questions than any other contender. The most significant involves what to do with Al Horford, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The veteran big man was pulled from the starting lineup Feburary 11, but was reinserted three games later after Ben Simmons suffered a back injury.
Horford looked good in eight straight starts before the hiatus, but may be headed back to the bench now that Simmons is fully recovered. Horford seemed like a valuable addition when he left the Celtics for the Sixers last summer. But he hasn’t found a way to be effective playing alongside center Joel Embiid, particularly when Simmons is on the floor at the same time, which results in spacing issues.
“I just want us to be playing well and to be playing at a high level,” Horford said. “I’m going to continue to work and be an assistance to a team any way I can. I do know for us to be successful I have to play with different lineups. I have to play with Joel sometimes. I have to play with different people. It really doesn’t matter.”
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- Coach Brett Brown wants to use Simmons in more of an off-the-ball role, which could mean additional playing time for Shake Milton, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Milton averaged 17.8 points and 4.1 assists in the last nine games before the break and moved into the starting lineup after Simmons’ injury. However, Brown is wary about expecting too much from the 23-year-old in the postseason. “I always get nervous about relying on young guys for the NBA playoffs. Shake is no different,” Brown said. “… But I’m going into this excited. I think some of the performances that he had on a consistent basis (earlier in the season) can’t be that far out of reach where maybe he can produce a large portion of that again.”
- In the same piece, Bodner examines which role players the team can count on when the season resumes. He suggests Glenn Robinson III, who was acquired from the Warriors at the trade deadline, may move up in the rotation.
- Rookie Matisse Thybulle has embraced Brown’s message for players to keep their conditioning at a B level and raise it to an A in Orlando, writes Lauren Rosen of NBA.com. “In a matter of two weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten back into really good shape,” Thybulle said. “I think it’s going to be easier to build on after this. Like Coach said, being at a B, I feel like I’m definitely there, and once we start playing, it’s going to fall into place.”