Keep an Eye On ...

T.Young
Before Sunday night's game against the Golden State Warriors, Sixers small forward Thaddeus Young makes a 3-pointer while assistant coach Jeff Ruland rebounds.

If you've been watching the 76ers (and of course you have if you're reading this), you've probably noticed the struggles the second unit is having. In Friday night's one-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers (2-10), the Sixers built a 14-point lead in the first quarter. With 2 minutes, 42 seconds left in the quarter, Willie Green checked in for Thaddeus Young. A minute later, Marreese Speights checked in for Samuel Dalembert. With 0.4 seconds left in the quarter, Reggie Evans and Lou Williams checked in and Thaddeus Young returned.

That means the unit starting the second quarter was: Reggie Evans, Marreese Speights, Thaddeus Young, Willie Green, and Lou Williams.

By the time the starting unit returned to the floor, momentum was lost, and it was a four-point game. By halftime, the Sixers trailed by three.

This has become a trend for the Sixers: It happened, also, in the loss at Minnesota. And it happened in the season-opening loss to Toronto.

Here's what Elton Brand said after Friday night's game about the performance of this second unit: “It’s disappointing. We had a nice lead in the Minnesota game and gave it back. The same thing [happened] tonight. Our second team just has to pick it up.”

(Sidenote: Yikes.)

Here's what Willie Green, who could be considered the captain of that second unit, said: "We'll have to make some adjustments in practice. We're coming in stagnant."

I asked Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks about this yesterday at practice. He said he thinks he will change the rotation to avoid this.

"I have to be more conscious of putting guys in the game with guys that have already been playing. We can cure it that way."

Cheeks said he will try to make sure he doesn't switch the lineup completely. Instead of subbing in four or even five new players, he might go with two new players and three starters. The goal is to make the transition smoother. What seems to be happening is the new unit is comprised entirely of guys who need to work themselves into a flow. Instead of Lou Williams being able to give it to Elton Brand and maybe Thaddeus Young, he is working with Reggie Evans (Evans is also cold coming off the bench) and maybe Willie Green.

Tonight, in 90 minutes, the Sixers (6-6) play the Golden State Warriors (5-7).

Keep an eye on this small shift in rotation. It might make a difference in allowing the Sixers to play more consistently and avoid losing early leads as they've been doing. Also, Cheeks said because the Warriors play smaller basketball, the Sixers lineup could also end up matching Golden State's. I would think that would mean less minutes for Samuel Dalembert and more for Willie Green.

--Kate

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