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Doc Rivers Explains Having Tyrese Maxey Come off Bench vs. Lakers

Doc Rivers on the decision to have Tyrese Maxey come off the bench in Los Angeles on Sunday.

At the start of the 2022-2023 NBA season, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers made it clear that he preferred Tyrese Maxey in the starting lineup after the young guard started 74 games for the Sixers last season.

Although many suggested that Maxey could thrive as a six-man, leading his own group while James Harden handles the primary point guard duties in the starting five, Rivers was totally sold on the idea of keeping that backcourt duo of Maxey and Harden together.

After seeing a large sample size of Harden playing alongside De’Anthony Melton, Rivers is no longer opposed to making that sort of change. And on Sunday night, as the Sixers paid a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers, Doc Rivers opted to roll with Melton as a starter, having Maxey come off the bench.

Maxey coming off the bench for the Sixers won’t be a permanent move — but changing the starting five based on different opponents and situations will be the plan from now on.

“We told our team there are three lineups that we’ll be using from this point on,” Doc Rivers explained during his postgame press conference on Sunday night. “We were gonna do it in the Utah game, but Tobias (Harris) was out. They know the lineups, I’m not going to share them, but there are three different lineups we’ll use on different nights.”

With the team healthy again versus the Lakers, the Sixers started Joel Embiid, PJ Tucker, Harris, Harden, and Melton. Although Maxey came off the bench, he still picked up nearly 33 minutes of playing time on Sunday in the win over the Lakers.

“Some nights, it’ll be the matchup to [the other team],” Rivers finished. “Some nights, it’ll be to make [the other team] match up to us.”

Against the Lakers, Maxey found success coming in as the six-man and draining six of his 13 shots for 16 points. While Maxey is still searching for consistency with his stroke from three, the young guard has a lot of catching up to do since returning from his month-long absence and coming back to a handful of critical changes. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.