There are many things to takeaway from this year’s NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. For Philadelphia specifically, the shortened playoff rotations of both teams are something to try and copy. The Sixers rolled out some of the biggest rotations this playoffs, playing up to 12 different players a game. If the 76ers want to make it further into the postseason, they need to play less players each game. That would allow their best players to stay on the court for as long as possible.
During the regular season, one of the bright spots of the 76ers was how deep the bench was. Having a deep bench during the regular season is very important. The regular season is long and tough, and keeping your top players from playing too many minutes is key. But once you make it to the playoffs, there is no need to rest players anymore. It seems that Doc Rivers did not get that memo. While you do not want your players playing over 40 minutes a game in the first round, from the second round on you want your best players out there as much as possible.
In Philadelphia’s first round matchup with the Washington Wizards, there were a lot of guys receiving playing time. That is not that much of an issue though. The Sixers won the series pretty easily in five games, and a few of their wins were blowouts where the starters got rested. In the second round, the same philosophy was put in place, but it hurt the Sixers. In the first three games, Philadelphia played 11 different guys. The only reason the rotation shortened to 10 players after the first three games is because Danny Green got hurt.
NBA Finals Takeaways
Both the Suns and the Bucks started the series out with 9-man rotations in the finals. Milwaukee and Phoenix would later shorten their respective rotations to feature 8 players. Each team also feature 5 players receiving at least 30 minutes a game. For the 76ers, they only had 4 players receiving at least 30 minutes per game in the second round. The 5th highest in minutes per game for Philadelphia was a tie between Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz at just 19.8 minutes per game.
Of course the amount of players who play is not everything, how they play matters too. Off the bench for the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks, Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis both had huge impacts throughout the Finals, on both sides of the ball. The same goes for the Suns, as the two Cams, Cam Payne and Cam Johnson brought some clutch offense and shooting. When it comes just to the role players on each team, they were able to sub in and out for each other and not see much of a drop in production. That is something the 76ers were not able to say when their bench players would come in during the playoffs.
How the Sixers Can Follow Suit
First things first, this starts in the offseason. Whether or not there is a Ben Simmons trade will impact who Philadelphia should target in the offseason. Whether it happens or not, the Sixers should always be looking to upgrade their roster with solid role players. The formula for great role players has been the same for years. Guys who can defend, and can also hit the three. The Phoenix Suns’ Jae Crowder fits the description perfectly, and was huge for the Suns all season long. Either signing or trading for an established veteran or two who fit the 3&D prototype would be great for the 76ers.
Once the roster has been sorted out, it is up to Doc Rivers to execute. As long as the Sixers are winning in the regular season, those deep lineups are no problem. When the playoffs roll around, the rotations need to shrink. Whether it was due to Doc not trusting the bench players in a shortened rotation, or just not going to it, that needs to change for next postseason. Philadelphia should strive for 3 or 4 really good bench players rather than 5 or 6 good bench players. If the 76ers can pull that off for next season, regardless of if Ben Simmons stays in town, they will be looking better than they did this season.
Photo Via: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE
Philadelphia’s roster could be looking very different next season. The Sixers have a lot of players who are able to play minutes in the postseason. Daryl Morey, Elton Brand, and the rest of the front office needs to try and take one or two of their good players, and get a really good player for them. Whether that happens because of a huge blockbuster trade, or one or two smaller moves.
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