Brett Brown must have been asked a dozen times over the past week a variation of the same question: “Why are you planning to start Markelle Fultz and have JJ Redick start the second halves of games?”
At the end of a thorough answer Monday for those who’d missed his earlier spiels about all the reasons behind his decision (valuing Fultz and the team’s development with an eye toward both the playoffs and the more distant future; wanting to give Fultz as many minutes as possible at the point in the second half; using Redick in a Manu Ginobili-like role), Brown said something obvious to anyone who’d listened to him walk through this debatable decision over and over again.
“It’s certainly come with a lot of thought,” he said. “That doesn’t make it right, but it’s come with a lot of thought. … Markelle Fultz will experience some inevitable ups and downs. I’m going to give this an appropriate amount of time, and everyone will have some notion of what that equals.”
Elton Brand answered questions about Fultz starting for the first time Monday. The gist of his response was almost identical to Brown’s.
“Coach will give him an opportunity to grow into that player we need in the playoffs, and that’s what we’re gearing up for,” Brand said. “There are going to be some ups and downs, but Coach is going to stick with it as long as he — I don’t want to put a stat line with it — as long as (Fultz) continues to get better and shows some of the flashes we’ve seen in the preseason and in the summer.”
Opening night in Boston is the first test for Fultz and this new starting unit, but don’t expect Brown to be deterred by a few bad games.
• The Sixers will likely be without new acquisitions Wilson Chandler (out with a left hamstring strain) and Mike Muscala (doubtful with a right ankle sprain).
It’s not an ideal situation for opening night, though Brown isn’t too bothered by the injuries.
“I’m numb to it,” he said. “I’m numb to injuries … somebody else will step up.”
Sunday, he mentioned T.J. McConnell as the “likeliest candidate” to get more minutes in Muscala’s absence.
• While Sixers-Celtics has all the makings of a great matchup for years to come, the Sixers aren’t ready to call it a rivalry just yet.
“A rivalry for me is anybody that’s not a Sixer,” Ben Simmons said.
“I’m a firm believer, having played ACC basketball, that one side has to beat the other side for it to be a rivalry,” JJ Redick said. “Now, they’ve got the upper hand.”
• We already know the Sixers are starting Simmons, Fultz, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid. Boston is expected to start Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. Hayward will be limited to 25 minutes of floor time as he returns from the gruesome injury he suffered on opening night last season.
Below are the essentials for the opener.
Jerryd Bayless, G, 6-3/210, No. 0
Jonah Bolden, F, 6-10, 220, No. 43
Wilson Chandler, F, 6-9/225, No. 22
Robert Covington, F, 6-9/225, No. 33
Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/260, No. 21
Markelle Fultz, G, 6-4/200, No. 20
* Demetrius Jackson, G, 6-1/200, No. 11
Amir Johnson, F/C, 6-9/240, No. 5
Furkan Korkmaz, G/F, 6-7/185, No. 30
T.J. McConnell, G, 6-2/190, No. 12
* Shake Milton, G, 6-6/205, No. 18
Mike Muscala, F/C, 6-11/240, No. 31
JJ Redick, G 6-4/195, No. 17 13
Dario Saric, F, 6-10/250, No. 9
Landry Shamet, G, 6-5/190, No. 23
Ben Simmons, G/F, 6-10/230, No. 25
Zhaire Smith, G, 6-4/200, No. 8
* Two-way player
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