3 lineups the Sixers should use without Joel Embiid

Shake Milton, Paul Reed, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Shake Milton, Paul Reed, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Sixers will be without Joel Embiid indefinitely after he suffered an orbital fracture in the Sixers’ Game 6 victory over the Toronto Raptors. There’s no concrete timeline for Embiid’s return, but given that the general recovery timeline for his injury requires weeks — not days — he probably won’t suit up for the Sixers’ series opener in Miami on Monday.

That’s a bummer, and the Sixers will obviously suffer without Embiid’s MVP-caliber production in the middle. He is one of the highest-usage players in the NBA and Philadelphia’s offense is generally catered to Embiid’s every whim. Without him, everyone on the team will undergo an adjustment period, from Doc Rivers to James Harden to the reserves.

Rivers has already indicated the possibility of a “center by committee” approach in Embiid’s absence, with all four backup centers in the fold: DeAndre Jordan, Paul Reed, Paul Millsap, and Charles Bassey. Opinions vary on all of Embiid’s backups, but in these dire circumstances, what kind of lineups should Doc Rivers run out there?

Here are some ideas.

Lineup the Sixers should use without Joel Embiid No. 1

  • Tyrese Maxey
  • James Harden
  • Danny Green
  • Tobias Harris
  • Paul Reed

This lineup was very successful in the Sixers’ first round victory over Toronto (granted, it was a small sample size). With Embiid out, this should probably be the Sixers’ starting five. Reed’s foul trouble is the foremost concern here, but he is Philadelphia’s best center right now. He should play as many minutes as possible before he fouls out.

Reed’s impact is most felt on the defensive end, where his non-stop hustle and active hands lead to turnovers and then to transition opportunities. The Sixers should look to play faster with Embiid out of the rotation, and Reed’s ability to turn the ball over — then subsequently sprint the floor in transition — makes him the ideal center for a smaller, higher-tempo approach.

There’s also the added benefit of Reed’s spot-up shooting. He’s not going to bury a high volume of 3s or even demand constant attention on the 3-point line, but he will shoot if he’s left open. He can occupy different spots on the floor depending on how Doc is orchestrating the Harden/Maxey/Harris triumvirate.