Sixers Lead

What to Make of Shake’s Big Day

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The Philadelphia 76ers lost a road game. Sound familiar? A result that has now occurred 22 times this season. Not many times will you hear a 22nd road loss by a team with title aspirations coming into the season be described as a “good loss”, but this was definitely a good loss. Losing to the Clippers by six points with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both playing is one thing, but doing that without your two all-stars is another thing altogether. How did the Sixers make this a game and almost steal one? One man stepped up when needed most, and it wasn’t who any of us expected.

 

How did Shake Milton do it?

Shake Milton took the game over. That is a sentence I never thought I would be writing, but here I am. Milton had 39 points on 14-of-20 shooting while adding five assists and three rebounds. Those 39 points are more than 32 points higher than his career average. So how did a role player have such an outburst?

It all came down to Shake’s demeanor. You could tell from the start that he wanted it and not even defensive juggernauts like Kawhi Leonard, Paul George or Patrick Beverley would be able to slow him down. As Milton said after the game, “Your number gets called, you see an opportunity and you try to make the most of it”. And make the most of it Milton did, as he kept his team in the game making big shot after big shot. His effort was a stark contrast to the typical Sixers’ effort on the road and a much needed boost this team, the fans and the franchise needed.

What does this mean moving forward?

Shake Milton will continue to be the starting point guard until Ben Simmons returns from his nerve impingement injury to his back. The Sixers have been very vague about this injury and we will not have a timeline until Simmons is reevaluated next week. Milton has shown the league and the coaching staff that he can score against elite defenders and has clearly taken the edge on the backup point guard spot from Raul Neto — who played zero minutes against the Clippers — when Simmons does return. A spark off the bench is something this team definitely needs and with rotations getting smaller come playoff time, look for Shake to be one of the first guys off the bench for this Sixers team.

Can this continue?

The Sixers need scoring from the guard position, especially with Josh Richardson struggling on the offensive end post all-star break. Milton can definitely help with that at least until Simmons returns. The Sixers do not need a 39-point effort from him and that should not be expected. However, Milton is needed to threaten the defense most importantly from the perimeter.

It is no secret that spacing is an issue for this Sixers squad and if Milton can continue to hit the outside shot — currently shooting 46.6% on the season — it opens up the floor for Embiid, Horford and Simmons. Even if Milton falls back to around his 8.8 points-per-game season average, his demeanor and want should show everyone on this team that even with their two top players out, they can compete with the best of the best in the league.

Shake looks to continue his scoring ways on the road tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 PM EST and if his last game at the Staples Center is any indication, we could be in for a good one.

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