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Why Sixers Removed Buddy Hield From Starting Lineup vs. Knicks

The Philadelphia 76ers adjusted Buddy Hield's role against the New York Knicks.

Heading into New York Knicks territory in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Philadelphia 76ers decided to make a notable lineup change.

For the first time since their acquisition of Buddy Hield, the former Indiana Pacers sharpshooter was moved to a role to come off the bench rather than begin the game as a member of the starting five.

When Hield started his run with the Sixers on February 9, he appeared in the remaining eight games throughout February. During that time, Hield averaged 35 minutes on the court. He shot an efficient 42 percent from deep while averaging 17 points per game.

In March, Hield’s production slipped a bit. Over the last five games, the Sixers veteran has averaged 12 points per game while hitting on 37 percent of his threes. From the field, he’s attempted 12 shots per game while knocking down just 35 percent of them. 

Heading into Sunday’s game against the Knicks, 76ers head coach Nick Nurse discussed Hield’s progress through 13 games.

“He’s had some good games early. I think he’s had some games where it’s been tough for him to squeeze off good shots. He’s had some games where he’s gotten enough good shots, too that he hasn’t made,” Nurse told reporters, according to PhillyVoice’s Adam Aaronson

Hield’s been around the Sixers for just one month. During that time, Philly had players in and out of the lineup and missed key players for an extended period of time. Acquiring a player who is expected to take on a significant role midway through the year always comes with an adjustment period.

Therefore, the Sixers are mixing things up until they find an optimal rotation.

“I just felt like he needed a different look," Nurse told reporters after the game. "Just something to get him going. Gameplans have been pretty focused on him. Sometimes, you can hide guys on the bench a little bit. You can sneak them in there and get them going.” 

With the Sixers currently down both of their All-Stars in Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid, they have no choice but to tinker and get creative with their rotations. As big as Hield’s tweaked role on Sunday night seems, it’s just another test run for Nurse and the Sixers.

It was a successful one at that, considering the Sixers defeated the Knicks for the first time this year with a 16-point showing from Hield off the bench.