Sixers who have to step up in Embiid’s absence: Paul Reed
Whether he starts or not, Paul Reed should lead the Sixers’ center depth chart in minutes played. Deandre Jordan and Paul Millsap project poorly in a postseason setting and we just haven’t seen enough of Charles Bassey yet. If the Sixers want to stay afloat until Embiid returns, then the Paul Reed Victory Tour needs to really ramp up.
The big question with Reed is an expanded role is, of course, his fouls. Reed has been extremely foul prone in his brief stint in the rotation, and while that doesn’t matter so much in 8-12 minutes per game, it could be much more problematic when the Sixers need him for 30 minutes per game.
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Reed’s greatest attribute is his defensive activity. He gets in the game and mucks things up. He wins the 50-50 balls, he makes the opponent feel his presence, and he never gets caught sleeping. That’s not to say Reed doesn’t make mistakes — he’s still young and learning — but he’s 100 percent engaged on every possession, and that’s more than can be said for his veteran counterparts in the backup center rotation.
If the Sixers can get 30 minutes of Reed in each game it will go a long way towards keeping them within striking distance of this Miami team. Reed is a genuinely good defender. He won’t protect the rim like Embiid does, but he competes hard in the post, he can move his feet in space, and he’s an absolute deflections magnet. He generates chaos, and given the Sixers’ presumed desire to run and gun more in Embiid’s absence, Reed’s capacity for forcing turnovers over should be quite valuable. He is also the Sixers’ best bet against Bam Adebayo straight up — he just needs to stay on the floor long enough for his impact to be felt.