The Philadelphia 76ers’ backup center spot behind Joel Embiid doesn’t have a permanent prospect. As Doc Rivers likes Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed for different scenarios, he tends to lean on one of them depending on the matchup and the situation.
Harrell’s the guy who typically gets the nod when Rivers wants the Sixers to have more help on offense behind Embiid. Reed will be utilized if Philly is going with a more defensive-minded lineup.
With Embiid out of the mix on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets, Rivers had to roll with both. Harrell got the start over Reed. Typically that would mean he would see the floor for longer. However, Reed’s early success led to Rivers sticking with the young veteran.
Harrell appeared on the court for a little under 16 minutes. As he struggled offensively, draining just two of his eight field goal attempts, the Sixers looked to lean more towards Reed in the second half, as he was a perfect 4-4 from the field with ten points in the 12 minutes he spent on the court in the first half.
“They were great,” said Doc Rivers, pertaining to the dual performance of Philly’s centers. “It was a great combination. I thought Trez played well in the first stint, and then after that, I didn’t think he had the same energy where I thought Paul kept the energy through the game, and that’s why we kept him in.”
In the second half of Tuesday’s game, Reed picked up nearly 20 minutes of playing time. As Rivers wanted to continue riding the hot hand for the night, the former second-rounder out of DePaul simply made sense in that situation.
“He was phenomenal,” said Sixers forward Georges Niang. “He was great. He was flying around doing Paul Reed stuff. Some putbacks, ISOS, you name it. He got it out the mud today. He was just great. He gave us that energy he always does, and he was really effective in his minutes.”
The key to Reed’s success in the eyes of the Sixers is keeping questionable fouls to a minimum, bringing energy off the bench, and fighting for rebounds. When the young center checks all boxes, he gets the job done for his team.
“He was active tonight,” said Sixers guard De’Anthony Melton. “I think that’s what we need him to do on both ends of the floor. Getting offensive rebounds, getting into transition, cleaning stuff up, setting screens, rolling. He was great tonight for us.”
Reed finished the night off with a season-high of 19 points in 31 minutes. He was highly efficient from the floor, draining seven of his nine field goal attempts. He also collected a double-double for the second time in his career by coming down with ten rebounds.
Thanks to Reed’s two-way contributions, the young center helped the Sixers achieve a shorthanded victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.