By Tommy Matthews

Ths Sixers wake up this morning in Los Angeles with tonight’s Clippers game on tap.

They are 27-16, five games behind Boston, which leads the East.

And only a half-game behind second-place Brooklyn.

And they have achieved this spot after surviving injuries to Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey.

Plus, they have endured the woeful offensive performance by newbie PJ Tucker, who has been a starter all year.

It’s time for Doc Rivers to bite the bullet on PJ.

As The Ringer points out:

The 37-year-old forward ranks last among qualified players this season in points created, last in usage rate, and last in offensive box plus/minus. Defenses don’t care about his shooting “threat” at all, giving him at least 6 feet of space on 80 percent of his 3-point attempts this season.

Removing Tucker opens the possibility of playing Harden, Maxey, and De’Anthony Melton together, and since Maxey’s return from injury last month, the 76ers have closed several games with the guard trio.

Lineups with Harden, Maxey, and Melton have outscored opponents by a robust 7.8 points per 100 possessions thus far, according to CtG, which ranks in the 91st percentile of all lineups league-wide. That combination is no great shakes defensively, but has scored an eye-popping 123.5 points per 100 possessions (98th percentile).

Translating that approach to playoff matchups against the other top teams in the East is a tough ask, though.

Playing Maxey and Harden together could prove tricky against the Celtics’ balanced attack or the Cavaliers’ guard pairing of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland.

And Rivers will probably want Tucker in the game to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo or Kevin Durant if the Sixers face the Bucks or Nets, respectively.

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