Brett Brown has a tough task.
The 76ers coach is focused on finding the best rotation while trying to keep players engaged. Reserve point guards Raul Neto and Trey Burke are perhaps the best examples of that.
Neto got first-quarter minutes in Monday’s loss at the Toronto Raptors after getting only mop-up duty two nights before. He did not play in the previous two games.
Brown has said, “It’s going to take until past Christmas” for the Sixers to find their rhythm. But don’t look for him to reduce the number of players in his rotation.
He won’t reduce the rotation and focus on playing shooting guard Josh Richardson as the primary backup point guard until after the All-Star break, in the final third of the season.
So, Brown said, he’s focused on trying to "keep the boys in the boat up until that point.”
Neto averaged 4.1 points, 1.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 12.2 minutes in 14 games heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings at the Wells Fargo Center. He was shooting 46.7% on three-pointers.
Burke, the Sixers’ other reserve point guard, averaged 6.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 17.5 minutes in six games. He was shooting 40% on three-pointers.
While players can make solid contributions in reserve roles, they can go a couple of games without having their names called.
Burke did not play in the first seven games. Then, after back-to-back appearances, he was sidelined against the Cleveland Cavaliers on his Nov. 12 birthday with left-calf tightness. Burke followed that up by not playing the next two games. Then, after four straight appearances, the 27-year-old missed Tuesday’s game in Toronto.
He struggled to find his shooting touch in his last two appearances, shooting a combined 3-for-16 while averaging 3.5 points against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday and the Miami Heat on Saturday.
Neto did not play in three games, on Oct. 28, Nov. 20 and Friday.