The 76ers Don’t Have the Bench to Back-up Their Starting Five

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April 1, 2019
One on One with Tristan Enaruna
April 2, 2019

Photo: Bill Streicher – USA TODAY Sports

Last year was just a practice round for the young Sixers, the last stop in the Process, so reaching the second round was a welcome surprise. This time around, it’s expected that they’ll at least reach the second round, but it would be somewhat of a disappointment if it all ended there. But, do they actually have the quality on their team to get that far?

Well, the Sixers have a very strong starting five, so what could go wrong?  Everything. Their entire team lives and dies with the starting five. As they’ve acquired Butler and Harris via trades, there’s not any depth left on the bench. Therefore, if any of the ‘big five’ are in foul trouble, or is having an off day, the entire playoffs are in jeopardy.

There’s just not a good substitute for any of them on the bench. Only three or four get regular minutes: T.J. McConnell, Mike Scott, James Ennis and Boban Marjanovic. Of those four, Scott and McConnell are the only two that might be of any value during the post-season. Scott has proved himself to be a great defender, while McConnell already saved the Sixers once last playoffs. They haven’t had the best season so far, but they both have the great quality that the past doesn’t matter, if the team needs them, as they are able to step up at any time and play any role the team requires.

Besides that, the Sixers don’t have any real backup for Joel Embiid. They do have Amir Johnson, Marjanovic and even Jonah Bolden, but none of them are really viable options to take his place on the court. Johnson isn’t a threat on offense, Marjanovic has his days on offense, but is too slow to defend the modern big man, and Bolden has just proven to be too light. Of course, the same can be said about Ben Simmons, as McConnell can’t be compared to him either, but as said before, he can make his presence known in different ways.

There might be some light at the end of the tunnel, as Furkan Korkmaz was out with a torn meniscus and not expected to play this season, but it was just announced that he’s already taking part in shooting drills. This means he might be ready in time for the playoffs. That would definitely improve the 76ers’ bench, as he got good minutes before his injury. Korkmaz is an excellent shooter, so he can be of great value, especially with Embiid’s and Simmons’ inside game.

Best opponents: Miami Heat

The Miami Heat, who are currently on the 8th spot in the Eastern conference, would be the best suited opponent for the Sixers. Of course, Philadelphia proved they can beat them in a 7-game series last year, but the Heat are also just a semi-slow paced team. Furthermore, the Heat don’t have a real star on their team, the two players that come close are Wade and Dragic, but they haven’t had the most balanced game this year. So with the speed and fast breaks of the Sixers, they should be able to get past them.

Worst opponent: Boston Celtics

The Celtics have proven to be a difficult opponent as of late for the Sixers. There’s a lot of individual power on the team, and the team has also gotten a lot stronger than last year. This season, the Celtics won 3 of the 4 games, but they were all very close. Both teams are just very well matched, and the Celtics have the size and skills to defend Embiid, Harris, Simmons, Butler and Redick all at once. Maybe, luck will go their way this time around.

Photo: Bill Streicher – USA TODAY Sports

Last year was just a practice round for the young Sixers, the last stop in the Process, so reaching the second round was a welcome surprise. This time around, it’s expected that they’ll at least reach the second round, but it would be somewhat of a disappointment if it all ended there. But, do they actually have the quality on their team to get that far?

Well, the Sixers have a very strong starting five, so what could go wrong?  Everything. Their entire team lives and dies with the starting five. As they’ve acquired Butler and Harris via trades, there’s not any depth left on the bench. Therefore, if any of the ‘big five’ are in foul trouble, or is having an off day, the entire playoffs are in jeopardy.

There’s just not a good substitute for any of them on the bench. Only three or four get regular minutes: T.J. McConnell, Mike Scott, James Ennis and Boban Marjanovic. Of those four, Scott and McConnell are the only two that might be of any value during the post-season. Scott has proved himself to be a great defender, while McConnell already saved the Sixers once last playoffs. They haven’t had the best season so far, but they both have the great quality that the past doesn’t matter, if the team needs them, as they are able to step up at any time and play any role the team requires.

Besides that, the Sixers don’t have any real backup for Joel Embiid. They do have Amir Johnson, Marjanovic and even Jonah Bolden, but none of them are really viable options to take his place on the court. Johnson isn’t a threat on offense, Marjanovic has his days on offense, but is too slow to defend the modern big man, and Bolden has just proven to be too light. Of course, the same can be said about Ben Simmons, as McConnell can’t be compared to him either, but as said before, he can make his presence known in different ways.

There might be some light at the end of the tunnel, as Furkan Korkmaz was out with a torn meniscus and not expected to play this season, but it was just announced that he’s already taking part in shooting drills. This means he might be ready in time for the playoffs. That would definitely improve the 76ers’ bench, as he got good minutes before his injury. Korkmaz is an excellent shooter, so he can be of great value, especially with Embiid’s and Simmons’ inside game.

Best opponents: Miami Heat

The Miami Heat, who are currently on the 8th spot in the Eastern conference, would be the best suited opponent for the Sixers. Of course, Philadelphia proved they can beat them in a 7-game series last year, but the Heat are also just a semi-slow paced team. Furthermore, the Heat don’t have a real star on their team, the two players that come close are Wade and Dragic, but they haven’t had the most balanced game this year. So with the speed and fast breaks of the Sixers, they should be able to get past them.

Worst opponent: Boston Celtics

The Celtics have proven to be a difficult opponent as of late for the Sixers. There’s a lot of individual power on the team, and the team has also gotten a lot stronger than last year. This season, the Celtics won 3 of the 4 games, but they were all very close. Both teams are just very well matched, and the Celtics have the size and skills to defend Embiid, Harris, Simmons, Butler and Redick all at once. Maybe, luck will go their way this time around.

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