After the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 15, Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer said that one of the tweaks that Sixers head coach Doc Rivers was putting P.J. Tucker at center demonstrated
“Tucker’s insertion as a small-ball center was a tweak on Wednesday (when the Cavaliers played without standout big man Jarrett Allen), a reminder that coach Doc Rivers can toggle between role players depending on matchups while fighting for seeding down the stretch of the regular season and once the playoffs begin,” Mizell said.
Tucker himself vocalized his approval of the tweak. “I like it, because it’s a good change-up,” he said.
According to Mizell, Rivers said the stretch with Tucker playing center made a “huge difference” compared to the second-quarter stint in which the Sixers went from being up five to being down seven.
Playing center is nothing new to Tucker, as he played that very position for his three previous teams: the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Miami Heat.
Georges Niang Praises P.J. Tucker
In 65 games this season, Tucker is averaging 3.5 points a game even though he also averages 25.8 minutes a game, a sizable role for someone who does not score much. After the Sixers beat the Washington Wizards on March 12, Georges Niang praised Tucker for not caring much about his low-scoring numbers this season.
“He’s such a selfless player that he doesn’t care about that stuff,” Niang told Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “He had his glory, scoring or whatever you want to call it, but he finds excitement, happiness, in us winning and doing the little things that a lot of people aren’t willing to do.”
Niang also talked about how rare it is to find players like Tucker who are willing to sacrifice their individual numbers for team success.
“You don’t find too many guys that are willing to do that,” Niang added while speaking with Carlin. “Especially, in the back half of their career and where they’ve had success doing things a certain way and he’s bought into that and continue to help us grow on that side of the ball and just continue to show us what it’s like to play championship basketball.”
Tobias Harris Praises P.J. Tucker
In an interview with Carlin on March 4, Harris told Carlin why he believes it’s stupid to judge Tucker based on his scoring output.
“When anybody talks about the points scored is an idiot just because there isn’t much opportunity for him to go out and average eight or nine points. The man shoots the ball two times a game, so that’s a (expletive) claim,” Harris said.
Harris added that Tucker’s reputation will come in handy in big Sixers games this season.
“He’s a guy who’s a winner, and every big game we’re in, those big teams and games that we play that felt like playoff environments, he’s out there making an impact. That’s where his game shines the most and also, just him being a vocal guy on this team, a leader, he’s the anchor to our defense, he can guard 1 through 5, he sacrifices offensively.”