Doc Rivers defends decision to keep starting PJ Tucker for Sixers

PHILADELPHIA–When one looks at Philadelphia 76ers veteran PJ Tucker’s stats for the 2022-23 season, nothing will pop out. The 37-year-old is averaging just 3.4 points and 4.4 rebounds while averaging 28.7 minutes per night. He’s also scored just three points in his last eight games combined.

So one might wonder, why does he start? Why do the Sixers play him so much when his numbers aren’t great?

That is one has to watch the game to understand what Tucker brings to the floor. The 6-foot-5, barrel-chested veteran doesn’t back down from anybody and his defense has been terrific while also making some hustle plays that lead to wins.

In fact, Tucker has the highest plus/minus on the Sixers at plus-78.

“The thing I’ll say with PJ, because I can feel lately that PJ’s been the whipping boy, who do you think is the highest plus/minus guy on our team?” asked coach Doc Rivers. “I think what we do is, we look at points. It’s all we focus on. We don’t focus on everything.”

Unfortunately, a lot of players are judged by what they do in the box score. They get judged by how many points they score or how many rebounds they grab or whatever fans want to focus on. Tucker’s defense has been a big save in certain matchups, like wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic as examples.

“PJ single, not single handily, but I go back to Milwaukee,” Rivers added. “No PJ, we probably don’t win that game. I can go to Orlando, (Paolo) Banchero, he didn’t wanna see PJ on the floor. This is not just an offensive game. You have to play both ends and guys have to fit.”

The Sixers brought in Tucker for a reason. If some thought that he was going to be this big scorer, they were sadly mistaken. Now, it is a bit strange to just see him go scoreless for long stretches, but it isn’t like he isn’t making an impact out on the floor. The veteran has been helping Philadelphia get the job done in big moments.

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Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire