How will NBA teams counter Sixers’ height advantage? Brett Brown can’t stop thinking about it
The Sixers coaching staff is aware of the game plans opponents could use to combat a lineup with four players at least 6-foot-9.
There’s been a lot of talk about how dominant the 76ers’ towering starting lineup will be this season.
Yet, they know teams will devise game plans to try to neutralize their size.
“The outliers are sort of premortems … it’s like small ball,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said following Friday’s training-camp practice. “People are going to come and just go tiny and play speed ball, jack threes.”
In a small-ball scenario, the Sixers would suffer if 6-foot-10 power forward Al Horford had to chase 6-1 point guard Kemba Walker in the Oct. 23 season-opener against the Boston Celtics.
“That’s always on my mind,” Brown said.
So is the fact that opponents may decide to play zone defense against them, because perimeter shooting is believed to be the Sixers’ weakness.
The coaching staff is aware of the game plans opponents could use to combat a lineup with four players 6-foot-9 and taller. Tobias Harris is 6-9. Both Horford and Ben Simmons are 6-10. Joel Embiid is 7-2. Josh Richardson, the other starter, is just 6-6.
“It’s such a well-coached league and well-scouted league, I only throw [small ball and zone defense] out there as examples,” Brown said. “I don’t know [what will happen], but what I do know is I’m always thinking about that side of my job so that we can be best prepared.”
Sixers fans will get a glimpse of the starting lineup at Saturday’s 1 p.m. Blue-White scrimmage at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington. Brown is looking forward to seeing the players in a competitive environment with referees, a shot clock, and fans. He wants to see the base-building the team put in this week play out during training camp.
“That’s another day to get better,” Embiid said, “[for] my teammates to play together, learn each other’s tendencies. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
The Sixers anticipate all 20 players on their preseason roster will partake in the scrimmage in accordance with their individual load-management plan.
The team will finalize a workload for Embiid on Saturday morning, according to a spokesman.
The two-time All-Star center has been brought along slowly this week during training camp after offseason knee rehabilitation. As a result, he did not compete in all team drills on Tuesday and Wednesday, the first two days of camp.
The 25-year-old Embiid was hampered by tendinitis in this left knee late last season. He missed 14 of the final 24 regular-season games, plus Game 3 of the Sixers’ opening-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.
But he’s been his normal dominating self at training camp.
Embiid worked on his shot for at least an hour after practice. A good portion of his shots were from beyond the three-point line.
“Like I’ve always said, I don’t really like shooting threes,” Embiid said. “But this year, since we’re going to have Ben willing to shoot those threes, maybe it’s going to put my game more inside.
“I’m hoping he will shoot them so I do my job, what I do inside.”