The Philadelphia 76ers received some tough news shortly before a road contest with the Charlotte Hornets on Monday that they would have to play without Tyrese Maxey. The young starting point guard came down with a non-COVID illness and the Sixers had to turn to other options.
Coach Doc Rivers ended up turning to Shake Milton and the veteran out of SMU had 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting while knocking down four huge triples to help the Sixers come away with a 127-124 overtime win over Charlotte.
While Joel Embiid will get all the attention, and deservedly so, Milton did play a role in this victory for Philadelphia. He did so while playing 35:26 which is way above the 25 minutes he averages this season.
“He was up and down, it was tough,” said Rivers. “He’s been a full-time point guard, but I thought he had a great start of the game offensively, but I can’t wait to watch the film. I just thought the physicality of the game was far more on their side than our side. The only place we were physical tonight was Joel, other than that, I thought they won the physicality battle and I think that’s what created a great game.”
Philadelphia did commit 15 turnovers which led to 23 points for the Hornets, but Milton only committed one of those turnovers. He also knocked down some big triples to bust Charlotte’s zone defense as they had to defend differently while being down their main rim protectors.
“They do a lot of things to counteract the fact that they don’t have rim protection,” said Milton. “They will show up in a zone, full-court defense, a zone in half-court, but then you make a pass and they switch to man-to-man. So, it can be very difficult, but for us, we have to play through it and whether it is man or zone, get to our sets and good things will happen.”
Still, this was a strong performance for Milton and it was one the Sixers really needed. In order for Philadelphia to go where they want to go, they will need a guy like Milton to really step up when it matters most and this was a good example of that on the road.
“Sometime after shootaround,” Milton said of when he round out he was starting in this one. “I finished shooting and they told me Tyrese was feeling under the weather, but I take it as an opportunity to step up. I feel like starting is something I can do in this league, and I had that opportunity tonight and I just wanted to help the team win, doing whatever it takes. Whether it’s defense, scoring the ball, and bringing energy.”
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