This is the 21st edition of the weekly 76ers mailbag.
Each week, Inquirer.com followers may submit questions to be answered on Friday.
Missed out on the party this week? No worries. Submit question(s) for next time by following me on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers and tweeting your inquiry with the hashtag #PompeysMailbagFlow.
Question: Given how they’ve fed off their home crowd with home-court record vs. away record, since no fans are allowed in the bubble, how do you think they’ll fare in the last eight [seeding games], but more importantly the playoffs? — @Quietstorm12_
Answer: What’s good, Stacy? I hope you and the family are doing well. This question comes up often.
I honestly think playing in a bubble with no fans benefits the Sixers more than any other team at Walt Disney World’s neutral site.
Yes, the Sixers did feed off their home crowd in route to posting a league-best home record of 29-2. However, they played like a church-league squad facing the original Dream Team more often than not on the road. Heck, their final road game was an embarrassing setback to the last-place Golden State Warriors. It marked the 10th loss in their last 11 road games and dropped the team to 10-24 away from home.
The Sixers are currently seeded sixth in the Eastern Conference. They likely would have had to open their first-round playoff series on the road under normal circumstances. It’s hard to put faith in them to prevail in a must-win road playoff game than in a hostile situation when they struggled to win on the road in the regular season.
Lack of home-court advantage might have made it hard for them to avoid a first-round exit. So I think this should propel them out of the first round. I’m not sure how far they will go. I do, however, think their chances are better in a bubble with no fans.
Q: Moving Simmons to the four still doesn’t solve the need for an outside shooter. If that is supposed to be Milton, then why is he on the ball? Looks like all five guys need the ball. Who gives up their game? — @johnquinn83
A: What’s up, boss? I could be wrong, but I still expect Simmons to have the ball a lot as the point forward. Maybe not at the start of possessions following opposing teams’ made baskets. In those instances, don’t be surprised if Milton’s initial pass is to Simmons in the high post. Look for Milton to roam around in the perimeter to help stretch the floor.
I think that’s going to the most effective use of the starting lineup that will include Tobias Harris, Simmons, Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson and Milton.
Richardson would be the player I would bet to sacrifice his offensive skills. I think his role will be that of a glue guy. He’ll guard the opposing point guards on most nights. He could have some big moments, offensively, but I see him as being the one during a lot of unheralded stuff.
Q: How does Tobias feel about playing at three instead of the four? Where does he see his role, as most the talk has been on Shake, Ben, Jo and Al? — @CrispKev_
A: Great observation Kev. Yes, most of the attention has been given to Shake, Ben, Jo and Al. But it’s still early in the restart, and those four guys are getting attention for various reasons. People want to know if Embiid is in shape. They’re talking about Horford going back to the bench and wondering how to utilize him. Simmons is returning from a back injury and moving to power forward, while Milton replaced him as the starting point guard.
Harris has been steady and his role isn’t expected to change much. Think about it, he was the starting three at the beginning of the season. Harris only moved to the power forward once Horford was demoted. So I don’t think going back there full-time will bother him.
On paper, his best position is power forward due to his ability to stretch the floor. Plus, he’s not an ideal defensive matchup against athletic wings at the three.
But we can’t forget that he thrived at small forward last season with the Los Angeles Clippers before coming to the Sixers via a trade to play the four.
Q: What happened to make this team appear to change so much during the shutdown? Mirage? Epiphany? Therapy? Fear? Desire? Leadership? Maturity? — @DShronk
A: Hello, David. It’s too early to say that this team has changed. We will learn a lot after their first three seeding games. I think they are receiving a lot hype because people assume they solved a lot of their problems during the four-month shutdown.
I need to see if the Sixers plan to use Horford when he’s playing alongside Simmons and Embiid. They say the chemistry improved. I need to see if that’s the case four games into the seeding slate. I need to see if guys continue to buy-in once they realize they’re no longer in the rotation. I need to see if Simmons will actually shoot three-pointers in games. And I need to see what type of mindset Embiid is in.
Everything always looks and sounds good before teams play their first game.
Q: Are Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle competing for the same minutes in the playoff rotation? — @CoopChew
A: What’s up, Connor? It’s still early, but I would be shocked if they both aren’t in the rotation. I don’t see them battling for minutes due to different and much-needed skillsets. Korkmaz is the team’s best shooter off the bench, while Thybulle is arguably the squad’s best perimeter defender.
Coach Brett Brown said Thursday both players will be in the rotation. So I don’t see them having to compete for minutes.