After months of being hyped up as the Philadelphia 76ers long sought after “savior”, Shake Milton saw his first time starting in the new-look Sixers lineup met with a resounding thud. He scored zero points, recorded five personal fouls, and only shot the ball once. Shake was also involved in a quite public sideline spat with Joel Embiid, one that circulated the national media relentlessly.
Following his uneasy first game back, fans and analysts alike were quick to pounce on the 23-year-old point guard. His mental toughness and his character were unrightfully questioned, and his overall ability was repeatedly played down by people who weren’t familiar with him.
Just a singular game into the Shake Milton experiment and people were already calling for him to be benched.
However, this was all simply child’s play to the ever-growing legend that is Shake Milton. The former G-League star heard all the chatter, internalized it, and ended up putting on a performance for the history books on Monday night.
Milton finished the game with 16 points, five rebounds, and three assists. He shot 6-9 from the field and 2-4 from beyond the arc, including the most important three-pointer of the entire game. With just a few seconds left remaining on the clock, Milton stepped into the game-winning jumper without hesitation, connecting with nothing but net as the Sixers secured their first win of the bubble.
The underrated ability of Shake Milton
The X’s and O’s of Milton’s game have been talked about to death over the last few weeks (myself included), so instead, I’d like to focus my attention on a different side to his ability, one that’s arguably far more important.
The pure mental toughness that Milton displayed last night is one that very few 23 years old can simulate. He was literally threatened on national TV by Joel Embiid, the best overall player on the Sixers, and it didn’t seem to phase Shake in the slightest. To most young players, this would be a borderline traumatizing experience. One that could knock them off their mental game for potentially months.
Not for Shake.
He clearly saw this as motivation and delivered on his end of the bargain. He came in on Monday with an aggressive mentality similar to what he was playing with before COVID, and it paid off in the long run. With the entire fanbase now once again in love with Shake following his late-game heroics, expect a continued level of confidence from him moving forward.
By the end of the game Shake and Embed were celebrating together and joking around about a championship on social media. I said earlier in the week that the confrontation between the two was a good thing, and it appears they felt so too.
For the most part, guys like Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris were the main reasons the Sixers scraped out the win last night. The two of them combined for 52 points and 15 rebounds and led by example all night long on the defensive side of things. However, when it came time for someone to step up and hit an ice-cold shot, it was once again the Sixers legendary “savior” who delivered.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports