Danny Green is out for at least two weeks. And there’s a good chance it’s even longer than that, per multiple reports, and his right calf strain has opened up a spot in the starting five for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers addressed the media after Sunday’s practice to discuss the plan moving forward. Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, George Hill have been the leading candidates to take over for Green.
Does Rivers know which jersey number will be out there in Game 4? If he does, the savvy leader of men is keeping it to himself. Tip-off is slated for Monday night (June 14) at 7:30 p.m. against the Atlanta Hawks.
“No would be my answer right now,” Rivers said when asked if he had picked a new starter.
When pressed further about it, a jovial Rivers gave an even broader answer. It will be either a defensive specialist or a three-point shooter. Or a combination of both. Either way, he’ll have a Sixers uniform on.
“So what I’m looking for is a 76er,” Rivers said. “Without joking, it is a decision that we’re going to have to make of what’s more important, the extra defender or the extra floor spacer. That was one of the things with Danny. Danny was so good defensively, in a lot of cases that you got a little bit of both.”
Hill is the best guess since he’s a hybrid player who can provide defensive support and outside shooting, plus veteran playoff experience. Hill spoke to the media on Sunday, not Korkmaz. He has been running mostly with the second unit since coming over at the trade deadline.
“Just saying ready, it’s a 48-minute game,” Hill said. “I think our first unit has done a great job establishing that pace and the mentality, and the second unit has done a great job of coming in and sustaining it.”
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Green Sticking Around For Leadership
Meanwhile, Rivers revealed that Green will remain with the team while he undergoes treatment and rehab. The three-time champion is just too important to sit at home. They need his voice in the locker room.
“We’re going to bring him right back. We want him around,” Rivers said. “He’s very important and so we got to have him around our guys. That’s very important for our guys. Especially in situations where the game gets out of control, emotions get out of control. Danny is a flat liner, you know. And you need guys like that on your bench, on your team. He has that calming effect on the team.”
Green has been texting Hill every day with updates and positive vibes. His message: “Do it for him because he’ll be back soon.”
“He’s in great spirits,” Hill said. “He told everybody to take care of business. We’re optimistic about his return and we know that he’s going to do everything in his power to return and help the team win a championship this year.”
Korkmaz Improving on Defensive End
The major knock on Korkmaz this season has been his effort on the defensive end. Ben Simmons — the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year — mentioned a noticeable improvement in that area from Korkmaz after Game 3. Rivers also remarked on that area of his game, adding that he “doesn’t like football players.” Korkmaz is learning how to better be a two-way player.
“You don’t get to play offense and then go rest. Two-way players are very important,” Rivers said. “Furk is doing all the little things that are required out of him. We’re not asking him to be Ben [Simmons] but we’re asking him to be a better defensive version of himself. And I think he’s doing that.”