The Philadelphia 76ers have yet another player hit with the injury bug, with stretch big man Mike Muscala set to miss the team’s season opener.
There was concern before today’s season opener for the Philadelphia 76ers about the availability of stretch big man Mike Muscala, according to Tom Moore of Bucks County Courier. Keith Pompey of philly.com has reported, that Muscala will miss the season opener against the Boston Celtics. The big man will miss the first game of the regular season due to an ankle injury.
When asked about possible adjustments to the rotation, Moore responded with the following.
Could see RoCo and Simmons splitting backup ‘4’ minutes with Muscala expected to be out Tuesday (and Chandler at least 2 weeks away), Lucas. Only other option is Bolden. https://t.co/kiyov9WYmp
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) October 16, 2018
It would make sense for Robert Covington and Ben Simmons to see time at the four spot with the second unit. Both have the defensive skills to do so. Though it’s more likely that Covington will see the majority of time as the second unit’s power forward, due to the fact that head coach Brett Brown may want to rest Simmons with either Fultz or McConnell leading the reserves.
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As seen in Moore’s tweet above, Jonah Bolden could be the only other player that might see more time as the bench’s backup stretch forward. He had a very solid preseason and proved capable of knocking down the 3-point shot. In four preseason games, he converted four of nine 3-point attempts. If Bolden gets the opportunity, he should be able to take advantage of the playing time.
Besides Covington, Bolden or Simmons playing the role of reserve power forward, there’s one other player that could get Muscala’s minutes. According to Noah Levick of NBC Sports, coach Brown has indicated that McConnell will most likely see more floor time as a result of Muscala’s poor health. Levick also quoted Brown in an article in which Brown also strongly hinted that Landry Shamet may see more time due to Muscala’s injury.
This should only re-enforce the idea that Moore presented that Simmons and/or Covington could see more time at the power forward slot. Playing guards like McConnell and Shamet to fill the void left by Muscala and will force the Sixers to play smaller with Simmons and Covington. However, playing small may benefit the Sixers when they play the Celtics.
Playing smaller usually translates to a faster pace on offense, usually in transition, which should help prevent the Celtics stifling defense from getting set. While Muscala will surely be missed with his ability to stretch the floor, his absence may help the Sixers more offensively with the ability to play faster in transition.
Hopefully, Muscala won’t miss significant time with this ankle injury. The Philadelphia 76ers need his shooting at both power forward and center position coming off the bench. However, with his injury the Sixers might be able to take advantage of a few more transition opportunities, which is a positive against a defensive juggernaut like the Celtics.