It seems the knee injury to reserve center Marreese Speights might spark a number of changes. Just sitting down after 76ers practice today at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. If you were following Deep Sixer on Twitter, you would have had some of this info about an hour ago, click here: Deep Sixer.
It's not a 100 percent, but if you read between the lines, it seems probable that Sixers coach Eddie Jordan might go with a different starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats. And it seems power forward Elton Brand will be out of the lineup. There are a few options for who might be in (all speculation, really, on what the changed lineup might be).
But we just spoke to Jordan. When the Sixers lifted the curtain on practice, they were running through 5-on-0 sets and Brand was working with the second team, Jason Smith with the first team. Rodney Carney was also with the first team, Willie Green with the second. It's tough to tell exactly what this stuff means because it might have been the first time all practice Brand was with the second team, so we had to ask Brand and Jordan. First we asked Jordan about the changes that will be made because of Speights' injury (partially torn MCL, to miss 6 to 8 weeks). Jordan said, "We went through a normal practice today and we always change our lineups in practice. Certainly Jason Smith will get more time at center. Elton will get some time at center and Primoz will be activated so we think we’re pretty well covered."
Then we asked Jordan about Brand working with the second team. Jordan said, "We have him playing some five with the second unit." Then we asked if that might mean a change to the starting lineup. Here's where it gets interesting. Jordan said, "Ummm," then there was a long pause and he smiled and said, "Who knows? Nothing is going to change until Wednesday, if there is a change."
Okay, that's not definitive, but certainly that's cause for raised eyebrows. We also talked to Brand. What he said seems more likely that there will be a change. Said Brand: "Today, he was talking about me working with the second group, getting some more center touches and stuff like that rather than playing with the fast-paced tempo of the first group, so definitely something is going to happen."
It seemed still unclear if Brand meant that he was working as center with the second unit so that he would be ready for additional minutes in the second quarter (in addition to starting), so we asked Brand which it was. He said, "No, we're going to see, it might be in the first quarter, too."
Back to Jordan. He was asked if he felt Brand was a 40-minute a night player. His response, without hesitation, was "No." Then, after being asked for more detail, he said: "He's just coming off two years of injuries. He's never had two years of injuries. So, he's not a 40-minute player now. You can put him out there for 40 minutes, I don't know how effective -- I know he won't be effective in those minutes because it's a process with his recovery ... I would put him in the game if I knew he was high level in the fourth quarter, but it's just not there."
Brand, for what it's worth, said he still thought he was a 40 minute a night player.
On Saturday night in Chicago, Jordan went with Rodney Carney down the stretch, playing him the final 9 minutes, 38 seconds. Today at practice, Carney was running with the first team, as was Jason Smith (they had about 7 guys on the first team, not just 5, so guys were rotating in and out). There seem to be a few possibilities for what might happen Wednesday night. And it's possible that we won't see any change at all to the starting lineup. But if we do, Jordan could just pull out Brand and plug in Jason Smith. Or he could move Thaddeus Young to the power forward and slide Carney (or Willie Green) in at the shooting guard, moving Andre Iguodala to the small forward. Heck, Carney could be the small forward and Iguodala could stick at the two.
Jordan acknowledged that Speights was insta-offense, but he said the team would make up for the injury on the defensive side of the ball. Jordan said Smith was a better defender than Speights and that the team needed Young to "defend and rebound better" -- and be more physical. Basically, Jordan was issuing a team-wide challenge to step it up on defense and physically. Jordan said: "Our bigs don’t contain the dribble if they’re against small fours … hopefully [Smith] can put it together and contain some people on the dribble."
So, there you have it, your update from the Sixers. Also, I took three videos today -- yeah, three. They're all posted in the Deep Sixer video player below on the right. There's one of Speights, talking today about his injury. He was wearing a brace on his left knee. He said there will be no rush on his rehab and that he would take the next week off completely. There's one of Brand, talking about the shifts needed because of Speights' injury. And there's one of Jordan, talking about how the team will compensate with Speights out. None of them are too long. Also, don't forget to follow on Twitter. It's a good time.