Monday night’s postgame media availability segued briefly into a 1v1 between Brett Brown and Kevin O’Connor regarding the Sixers’ schematic preference to keep a player in the “dunker spot” during post ups and pick and roll sets.

Brown gave a detailed answer, more information than he typically would provide, and in the interest of fully understanding what he’s talking about, here’s a complete transcription:

KOC: There are certain occasions you might run a post up with Joel Embiid with Al Horford or Tobias Harris in the dunker spot, or a high pick and roll with Embiid, and Horford is on the low block. I’m curious, what is the mindset behind having that offensive positioning, and are there any intentions to go four-out with shooters all spacing the floor around Embiid?

Brown: As far as the floor spots we occupy? Who’s on the floor?

KOC: There was one occasion tonight where Embiid posted up on the right and Harris moved down to the left dunker spot. Is there any thought to having four-out spacing with the other guys on the court, behind the arc?

Brown: Zero. It doesn’t make me right, but this is my experience – I lived with Tim Duncan for five NBA finals, four of which we won, in 12 years with (Gregg Popovich). And I’m very privileged to have experienced the world of post players as it relates to spacing and schemes and how people came at him. One thing that resonates the most is that four on the perimeter is the easiest environment for defenses to double team a post player and have the ability to put out fires as a result. It’s too crowded. To occupy a low zone and space the court out more, interests me the most, for the reasons I just said.

Let’s just stop it there briefly so I can set the stage (and we’ll just keep it to post ups so that this article doesn’t veer out of control).

When the Sixers post Embiid, it typically looks like this:

You’ve got three shooters fanned out along the perimeter, Tobias Harris goes to the weak side low zone (dunker spot), and Embiid is posted up against Daniel Theis. In a typical full-strength game, Ben Simmons would be in the dunker spot, since he’s a non-shooter anyway.

Got it? Good, here’s the rest of the exchange:

KOC: In other words, for Embiid, it gives him an easier outlet in the event of a double, having that guy in the dunker spot, rather than behind the arc, to have another shooter there?

Brown: Really, and it’s a good question, I love talking about it because it really is an offense by itself. It’s my opinion that mostly driven out of the (San Antonio) experience, that if you don’t occupy the dunker, that when Marcus Smart or Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum goes down to double team Joel, which they do often, if you pass out of that, their athletes can put out fires with 3 on 4, way easier than 2 on 3. I think you’re in an offensive rebounding position also, if you can occupy that dunker spot. I think the great dunkers, if you look over the years, they’ve rendered the sport into a 4 on 4 game because they were lethal offensive rebounders down there. That’s probably too much of a clinic, but that’s what I think.

When Brett talks about 3v4 and 2v3, he’s talking about swing rotations on the perimeter. In the simplest of terms, he thinks that three defensive players can rotate on the arc with more success than two defensive players, because offensively it’s easier for three offensive players to fan out instead of four. Then you leave the non-shooter on the weakside, where rebounds typically fall.

Going back to the graphic above, let’s say Gordon Hayward leaves Shake Milton to double team Embiid. That would leave a rotational 2 vs. 3 looking like this:

You’d get a situation where Theis and Hayward double Embiid, Tatum has to address Tobias Harris in the dunker spot, and therefore Marcus Smart and Brad Wanamaker have to rotate to handle Milton, Burks, and Thybulle. It’s a 2v3 for those guys.

That’s the philosophy. It might seem clunky on the surface, because you’re wondering why they’d put somebody on the opposite low block, so close to Embiid. But in this case it forces a defender to honor that area and thins out the number of bodies on the arc.

Sometimes they’ll send a cutter also, which you can see from Thybulle on this collection of Embiid assists:

That’s the explanation. They post Embiid in a three-out, two-in scheme based on preference (and personnel). Jay Wright, for comparison, uses a four-out, one-in scheme, which is similar to what you see with Milwaukee, as they space around Giannis and try to open the floor as much as possible.

It’s unique, and it’s not totally congruent with the modern day game, perhaps, but that’s the philosophy.