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Nets' center rotation, 76ers' bench and the most important lineups for ...

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JaVale McGee
Meyers Leonard
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Doc Rivers


New York's

the Golden State Warriors

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The New York Times
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Case in point: Both of last season's Finals teams -- the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat -- removed a regular-season starter from their rotation entirely. The 2019 Philadelphia 76ers beat the stuffing out of the eventual champion Toronto Raptors when Joel Embiid was on the floor, for instance, but lost the 99 minutes he sat in that series by a preposterous 109 points. No matter how badly the Nets wanted to bench him, they're going to need him in the playoffs. Philadelphia has been outscored during Embiid's bench minutes in four of his five professional seasons, with the lone outlier being a plus-11 last season that hardly disproves the point. He cannot physically play 45 minutes per game in the playoffs. The 76ers are going to have to survive 10-to-12 minutes per night without their best player in the playoffs if they ever plan to win a championship. Simmons and Embiid will be staggered again in the playoffs, but who they ultimately play with is a mystery, and finding bench units that work around Simmons with so few regular-season reps isn't going to be easy. Injuries are a major part of this, but it should be noted that three weeks away from the playoffs, the Bucks haven't even used the lineup listed above, which most expected to be their closing unit in a matchup with Brooklyn.This is going to change, of course, but it adds an uncomfortable degree of uncertainty to Milwaukee's postseason. Teams want point guards that shoot like Leonard, not McGee, yet Payton has mimicked the latter in emerging as New York's least valuable player. The Knicks are 6.5 points per 100 possessions better with Payton on the bench this season. When the Knicks play those two together, they've crushed opponents by over 17 points per 100 possessions.Pairing even one of them with a shooter like Alec Burks or Reggie Bullock has yielded far better results for the Knicks than most Payton lineups.

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