Sixers who have to improve vs. Heat in Game 2: Paul Reed
Paul Reed was extremely impactful in the minutes he was on the floor in Game 1. He was practically the fourth-best player on the team, making his trademark impact on the defensive end, rebounding with verve and vigor, and even dishing out four assists. Doc Rivers criticized Reed’s rebounding and expressed worry over the Reed-Adebayo matchup, but Reed grabbed nine rebounds in 13 minutes and was easily Philadelphia’s best answer for Miami’s All-Star center.
That said, there’s one number that stands out there — 13 minutes, because “B-Ball Paul” racked up five fouls in his alarmingly brief time on the court. It’s fair to criticize Rivers for not letting Reed pick up his sixth foul (play him ’til you can’t), but with Embiid out the Sixers need Reed to cut down on the over-aggressive mistakes. He has to be able to stay on the floor longer. Philadelphia might’ve been in the game a lot longer if Reed could have played 20-25 minutes.
Now, Reed’s whole thing is that he goes 110 percent on every possession and makes the other team feel his physicality. He uses his hands in the post, he leaps eagerly into passing lanes, and he will go for every steal or block within his reach. That is generally going to lead to foul trouble, so Reed needs to find a way to dial it back half a percentage while still bringing his signature chaos to the defensive end.
The Sixers need Reed to play the most minutes of any center on the roster in Game 2. Doc Rivers will probably allow him to do so if he’s not in foul trouble, and Reed showed the necessary self-awareness in his post-game press conference after Game 1. There’s an element of playing smarter, not harder that Reed has to incorporate into his game to take the next step. Unfortunately, he didn’t get many regular season reps to polish his approach. Now, it’s do-or-die on the biggest stage. Let’s see if he can pull it off.