The Philadelphia 76ers’ new starting five matchups up even better against the Boston Celtics.
Currently, the Philadelphia 76ers are set to face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs if things don’t change in the last eight regular-season games. If the Celtics do end up staying the Sixers opponent of the first round, Philly’s recent lineup change could help the 76ers even more against Boston.
I’ve already written a preview about Philly’s potential playoff matchup against the Celtics, but I didn’t get into lineups in that article. That was a mistake on my part and obviously it’s a big part of any potential matchup between these two historic rivals.
It’s even more important to dissect this topic considering that Sixers head coach Brett Brown decided to make a change to the starting line. Ben Simmons was shifted to the power forward after playing point guard for all of his NBA career and power forward/center Al Horford was benched in favor for point guard Shake Milton.
This new lineup works better against Boston
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The starting lineup of Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Simmons, and Joel Embiid showed real potential in limited minutes during the one scrimage they played together. With that in mind, it’s fair to wonder how they would fair against Boston in a first round series.
The 76ers are 3-1 against the Celtics this season, but this new lineup should make things even harder for Boston. It would have been hard for Horford to defend any of Boston’s talented wing players in their starting five for a seven-game series.
However, with Milton taking over Horford’s spot as a starter, Philly matchups up much better against Boston’s talented wings.
At 6-foot-5 and a having a 7-foot wingspan, Milton should be able to defend Kemba Walker well enough. Richardson’s a very good two-way player so he should be able to give Jaylen Brown problems on both ends. Harris should be put on Gordon Hayward who hasn’t been able to recapture his former All-Star form since getting injured three seasons ago.
Simmons would be the ideal player to defend the emerging superstar in Jayson Tatum. It doesn’t matter who the Celtics start at center because Embiid is so much better than any big man who is on their roster.
Swapping Milton into the starting lineup for Horford should allow the Philadelphia 76ers to match up much better against the Celtics if the two teams do end up facing off in the first round of the postseason.