The Philadelphia 76ers are in a tough spot as they continue with their preparation for the 2021-22 season. They have to find a way to replace Ben Simmons at the point guard spot as they continue to find a way to move on without the 25-year old All-Star.
Thursday was another step forward in that process as they were able to knock off the Toronto Raptors at home. Coach Doc Rivers made a change as he moved Shake Milton into the starting lineup after starting Tyrese Maxey on Monday against Toronto.
“Just looking at different guys,” Rivers said of Milton after the win. “I thought he played well. I thought he settled down. I thought he struggled early and then he started playing really well. It’s a competition.”
Milton had five points and four assists as a starter and then Maxey finished with 14 points and five assists off the bench after he struggled a bit on Monday. As of now, Rivers is not sure what to make of Maxey with the second unit, but he liked what he saw on Thursday.
“I don’t know,” Rivers stated. “If he plays the next game well with the first unit, you know what I mean? We’re just gonna get through camp and let them both play and as I keep saying, I don’t know if this is a team that there’s a starting lineup. It’s just gonna be different guys different nights and that’s how we’re gonna play.”
What Rivers means by that is that the Sixers will be relying on a multitude of ball-handlers at the moment. Until they trade Simmons or they develop Milton or Maxey, they will continue to have to juggle a lot of lineups. Maybe Rivers decides who starts based on matchups at this point.
“I don’t think there’s any competitions,” said Joel Embiid. “We’re just trying to find the right lineups. We want to win. Everybody understands that. I don’t think any of them is gonna be mad coming off the bench or starting so I think right now, we’re just finding ways to win games and what works and what doesn’t…I don’t think it’s necessarily a battle. I think we’re just trying to come together as a group.”
The Sixers have a lot of players they can turn to in order to really handle the ball. Along with Milton and Maxey, they can turn to Seth Curry or Danny Green, or even Tobias Harris. At this point, everybody will have to pitch in, not just the young guards.
“I don’t see it as a competition,” added Green. “I don’t think they see it as a competition either. They both know what they bring to the table and it also depends on who we’re facing and the matchup so that’s Doc’s job to figure that out. They’re both great for us and they’re both trying to figure it out and they’ve done a good job so far of taking on the challenge.”
This is not an easy job for either Milton or Maxey. Neither of them are natural point guards and that is something that will hinder them a bit at times, but Rivers is also not worried about that right now.
“If we get one, great, but I don’t worry about what we don’t have,” he stated. “You’re talking to the wrong guy. We’re gonna win with what we have. That’s the way I’ve always thought. There’s a lot of guys that can play and you figure it out. There’s a lot of teams that don’t have pure point guards. It’s harder to name the ones that do. You just play with the guys you have and create your offense that way.”