Sixers will go as far as the starting lineup takes them

Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA regular season is all about depth, particularly in this condensed pandemic season. However, the playoffs become all about the starters. As rotations shorten, starting lineups drive success, not bench units. While a solid bench has helped the Sixers obtain the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the starters will decide the team’s fate in the playoffs.

The Sixers’ starting lineup has been elite in the regular season and the first round of the playoffs. How far can the starters take them?

The Sixers’ starting lineup of Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid has destroyed this season. The starters have played the most minutes out of any Sixers’ lineup by far, and the lineup outscored opponents by 13.8 points per 100 possessions.

Regular Season: 5-Man Combinations Table
1S. Curry | J. Embiid | D. Green | T. Harris | B. Simmons655:18+13.8
2S. Curry | D. Green | T. Harris | M. Scott | B. Simmons107:40+0.9
3D. Howard | F. Korkmaz | S. Milton | M. Scott | M. Thybulle96:29+4.2
4T. Harris | D. Howard | F. Korkmaz | S. Milton | M. Thybulle80:05+7.4
5T. Bradley | S. Curry | D. Green | T. Harris | B. Simmons78:06-0.9
Team Average3489:16+5.6

Provided by View Original Table

For context, that lineup has the sixth-best net rating out of 30 lineups to play at least 200 minutes together in the NBA this season, and the best out of 11 lineups to play at least 350 minutes together. The starting lineup blends effectiveness and high minutes as well as any lineup in the NBA this season.

The playoffs have been even better. Two games is a small sample size, but the Sixers have blitzed the Washington Wizards by an insane 35.2 points per 100 possessions with all five starters on the floor.

Playoffs: 5-Man Combinations Table
1S. Curry | J. Embiid | D. Green | T. Harris | B. Simmons32:21+35.2
Team Average96:02+17.0

Provided by View Original Table

The fact that this lineup is dominating should not come as a surprise to Sixers’ fans. The lineup contains an MVP favorite, two more all-star-level players, and two rock-solid role players. Talent has never been a concern for the Sixers over the last few seasons, but the fit has. Thankfully, Daryl Morey’s offseason moves finally changed that.

Embiid and Simmons provide plenty of playmaking, interior scoring, and defense, but provide limited spacing. The acquisitions of Curry and Green solved the spacing issue without compromising the defense. Rounding out the lineup, Harris has been a swiss army knife this season, providing steady scoring, spacing, and defense while improving his playmaking. Basically, the starters have almost no weaknesses.

The starters’ net rating will drop as the competition stiffens, but the Sixers can only destroy the team in front of them. The ultimate test will come in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Nets and Bucks both boast elite starting lineups of their own. The Sixers’ starters won’t dominate those matchups, but if they can win those minutes they should win the series.

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Ultimately, the Sixers will go as far as their starting lineup takes them. Given how well they’ve played this season, the Sixers should go very far.