By Tommy Matthews
Sixers coach Doc Rivers went with an eight-man rotation Sunday in the game 4 OT win over the Celtics.
And it resulted in James Harden playing 47 minutes and 24 seconds and his 42 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and four steals.
Joel Embiid also played 46 minutes with a brace on his sprained right knee. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris each got 45 minutes.
While Rivers acknowledged that fatigue impacted his team late in Game 4, he didn’t sound inclined to expand his rotation again with the series even at 2-all.
“No,” he said. “No, but if we need to, we’re ready to do that. Like if somebody got in foul trouble or if one of the guys that we’re playing wasn’t playing efficiently enough, we’re ready to pull the trigger for the other guys.
“We have a team, and there’s going to be nights when you play six guys. There’s going to be nights where you may need nine and everybody has to be ready to play.”
“It was our first time playing that many minutes that hard,” Rivers said Monday. “There’s a difference between playing 40 minutes in the regular season and 40 minutes in the playoffs …
“I think that came to our aid last night because late in the year, we were ramping guys up, running them more in shootarounds, thinking, ‘We’re going to have to play heavy minutes.’ So I think that’s what paid dividends last night in some ways. But we did get fatigued, and I thought we got stagnant for a six-, seven-minute stretch, and it allowed them to catch up and take the lead.”
De’Anthony Melton,Georges Niang and backup center Paul Reed were the Sixers’ three players off the bench Sunday. Danuel House Jr. and Jalen McDaniels are other options for Rivers, along with combo guard Shake Milton.
He was asked whether Embiid’s postgame comments that he was “gassed” in the fourth quarter and lacked lift meant the team needed to monitor the MVP.
“No, we’re going to play him 44,” Rivers said with a laugh.
“Unfortunately for him, it’s the cost of doing business when you’re not healthy,” he said of Embiid. “So I think we’ll monitor that part, obviously. If we think he can’t perform because of that, we’ll make a change.
“But listen, (the Celtics) played seven and a half. We played six and a half guys. I think that’s where we’re at right now.”