The 76ers will get some of their excitement off the bench back Friday.
That's when reserve center Richaun Holmes will make his regular-season debut against the Indiana Pacers at the Wells Fargo Center. He has been sidelined since suffering a fractured wrist in a preseason game against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 6.
"We have something available to us that is different than all of our bigs," coach Brett Brown said after practice Thursday.
Holmes pairs well with point guard Ben Simmons in the pick-and-roll. The third-year player rolls to the basket with one intent: dunk the ball.
But the Sixers (4-4) don't have a preconceived idea of how many minutes he'll play against the Pacers (5-3). As expected, Joel Embiid will start and Amir Johnson will remain the backup. Holmes' time on the floor will most likely be determined by how Johnson performs.
"What you should hear the loudest is, he is back," Brown said. "He's different. We're excited to have him back. He can help this team."
Holmes' returning against the Pacers isn't surprising. He has known that he would play Friday since more than a week ago.
Holmes was a limited participant in practice last Friday. At the time, the Sixers wanted to see him participate in more practices before playing in games. The 24-year-old was unavailable to speak Thursday due to attending a media training meeting.
But that didn't stop Brown from raving over him.
"His breakaway-like rim-to-rim speed in early offense is A-plus," he said. "There is sort of tenacity and toughness. He wears his heart on his sleeve that I think adds to what we are trying to do anyways.
"But there's just a bounce to Richaun Holmes that makes him different."
Holmes averaged 9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.0 block in 57 appearances with 17 starts last season.
Johnson emerging into solid backup
Amir Johnson is finding his niche as the Sixers' backup center.
The free-agent acquisition was inconsistent through his first six appearances. However, the 30-year-old came close to recording consecutive double-doubles in the Sixers' last two games.
Johnson finished with a season-high 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting in Monday's victory over the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center. He also finished with a season-high 10 rebounds and two steals to post his first double-double since April 3, 2016, as a Boston Celtic. Back then, Johnson had 10 points and 13 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson followed up Monday's performance with a 12-point and eight-rebound effort in Wednesday's home win against the Atlanta Hawks. He made 5 of 6 shots. Not bad for a guy who averaged four points on 35.7 percent shooting.
"I'm just finding my ways, [playing] off these guys," Johnson said. "You know, crashing the glass, doing all the stuff that can help this team out to win."
These are the things he's determined to keep doing the rest of the season as Embiid's backup. The 13-year veteran also provides leadership to the Sixers' young team. Playing with the young guys has also been a benefit to him, though.
"They help me out a way in picking up my energy," he said. "Every day in practice, even in the game, guys are flying down the floor. So it's kind of like I'm learning a lot from the younger guys."