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The 76ers are hoping to get center Joel Embiid back before the end of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the Heat. Until then, head coach Doc Rivers isn’t planning to change up his approach without his star.
Philadelphia started DeAndre Jordan in place of Embiid in Game 1 and his performance was widely panned. He played 17 minutes with four points, two rebounds, two blocks, two turnovers and two fouls. The 76ers were -22 with him on the floor.
Despite calls for Rivers to replace Jordan with Charles Bassey, or play smaller with Paul Reed or Paul Millsap, that’s not in the cards.
Doc Rivers plans to keep starting DeAndre Jordan with Joel Embiid out
“We like DJ. We’re gonna keep starting him whether you like it or not,” Rivers said after Monday’s loss.
To be fair, Philadelphia doesn’t have a replacement for Embiid. Whether it’s Jordan, Bassey, Reed or Millsap on the floor, they’re weaker than they would be with the MVP candidate.
However, Jordan got his chance in Game 1 and didn’t look up to the task. Giving someone else a chance could yield different results. Simply leaning into a smaller lineup could do just as much good.
Rivers has won an NBA Championship, so he gets to do what he wants. However, he’s also had a decade of playoff failure on his resume since that title. He’s going to need to do a special coaching job at the start of this series to give Embiid a chance to influence things down the line. If he persists with Jordan, he’s going to have to own that decision and the criticism it may ignite.