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Paul Reed Likely to Continue Starting at Center with Joel Embiid at 50%

Apr 22, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed (44) blocks a shot by Brooklyn Nets forward Cameron Johnson (2) during the second quarter of game four of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers  are headed to the Eastern Conference second round after completing a sweep of the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. The 76ers outscored the Nets 56-40 in the second half en route to a come-from-behind 96-88 victory despite being without  Joel Embiid. Tobias Harris and Paul Reed combined for 35 points, 27 rebounds, and two blocks to lead the way for the Sixers.

Paul Reed Likely to Continue Starting at Center With Joel Embiid at 50%

What Happened to Embiid?

Embiid suffered a sprained right knee during the Sixers’ victory in Game 3. Embiid was injured when he landed awkwardly after contesting a drive by the Nets’ Cam Johnson. Despite limping several times the rest of the game, Embiid was still able to get across the lane in time to swat away Spencer Dinwiddie’s game-tying layup attempt to secure the 76ers’ victory on Thursday night with 8.8 seconds remaining.

While there was hope initially that Embiid would only have to sit out one or two games in the Brooklyn series if the series lasted that long, head coach Doc Rivers provided a more bleak outlook following the Sixers series-clinching win, per ESPN’s Tim Bontempts.


Philadelphia is off until the completion of the Boston Celtics-Atlanta Hawks series. The Celtics take a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 in Atlanta on April 23. Game 5 is on April 25 in Boston. So, the earliest round two will likely start is next weekend, and that is if the Celtics take both of those games. Another Hawks victory, and the 76ers will be off until at least April 29.

Doc Rivers on Paul Reed’s Performance

If Embiid has to miss more games,  Reed should remain the starter at center. The 23-year-old was terrific in his first career postseason start yesterday afternoon. Reed tallied 10 points, grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds (eight offensive), blocked a shot, and came up with a steal in 32 minutes.

“I just thought he earned that,” Rivers said about Reed. “He’s been playing well. I didn’t love the Paul and Tuck combination together, but in the third quarter, that turned out to be great because we’ve won this series, I think, mostly because we dominated the glass. So that was our thought going into the game. Paul and Tuck are our two best rebounders. Let’s put them on the floor. I know it’s going to create offensive spacing problems, but let’s see what we can get, and then in the second half, really from the second quarter on, when we separated them. We played, for the most part, one of them on the floor and not both on the floor, and I thought it was good for us.”

Despite Reed’s exception playoff run, Philadelphia will need to get something from Montrezl Harrell and possibly Dewayne Dedmon if they hope to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

Sixers Without Embiid

Injuries are nothing new for Embiid. Embiid has not played more than 66 games in a single season and has missed at least one playoff game in five of the past six years. The Sixers are 4-3 all-time in the postseason without Embiid.

Philadelphia has played well without Embiid this year, going 12-5 (1-0 playoffs) with a +7.0 scoring margin. The 76ers have been better offensively without Embiid this year. The Sixers averaged 118.4 points, over three points more than their season average, and allowed 111.3  during 16 regular season games.

Maxey averaged 28.9 points on 50.2% shooting in 10 regular-season games without Embiid. Harris and De’Anthony Melton also have stepped up their production with the big man out.

Looking at the 76ers Options at Center

Rivers doesn’t always go with a traditional lineup when Embiid is out. But if he does, he now has three players he can count on to fill significant minutes at center. However, Harrell only played seven minutes during the Nets series, and Dedmon didn’t get off the bench.

If River devices to go the small ball way, Harris will slide to the five. P.J. Tucker, who can also play a few minutes at center, would be at the four. That would leave more minutes for De’Anthony Melton, Georges Niang, and Jalen McDaniels at the three.

Montrezl Harrell

Harrell grabbed one rebound in five minutes of action in Game 4 of the Nets. But the veteran is the Sixers’ best offensive big man, besides Embiid, and is relentless on the offensive glass.

Harell saw the most minutes of the 76ers’ other three centers during the regular season in place of Embiid. The undersized big man has thrived as a starter throughout his career, with this year being no exception. Harrell averaged 13.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in seven starts in place of Embiid this year, with the Sixers winning five of those games. However, the veteran is a defensive liability.

Paul Reed

Reed is one of the 76ers’ high-energy guys. The athletic 6-9 23-year-old has improved each year and, like Harrell, stepped up his production when Embiid sat out this year. He averaged 8.7 points on 69% shooting from the field and 7.1 boards in the 15 games.

Reed had an exceptional first-round series. Reed averaged 7.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in 16.5 minutes a game. He shot 58.2% from the field and recorded a team playoff-high PER of 27.4

Dewayne Dedmon

Dedmon has not seen the floor in the postseason and has only played eight games since joining the 76ers. But the seven-footer is a strong defender, rebounder, and rim-protector.


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