The Sixers took game two over the Atlanta Hawks, but it was a second-half push by Shake Milton that stole the show Tuesday night.
While the Sixers came out rather sluggish in the first game of the series, game two was a completely different story. The Sixers immediately set out to dominate the Hawks and were off to an impressive start. Tobias Harris, in particular, had himself a quick 16 points in only 8 minutes.
The Sixers’ great start wasn’t meant to last, however, as Doc Rivers removed the hot hand (Harris) from the court so that he could join the bench later on. It was a move that made little sense as, even though ideal you play a starter with the bench unit, you never take out the hot hand. Whatever his reason, Doc Rivers has some explaining to do with that decision.
While it’s disappointing to give up the lead they had early in the first, the game had a true playoff feel almost throughout. It was hard-fought, physical, and fun.
The game even ended up with a bit of extracurricular excitement as Joel Embiid, and Danilo Gallinari got into a heated exchange, resulting in both players being assessed technical fouls.
No love was lost between these two as it wasn’t the first physical moment between them in this series, and it certainly won’t be the last.
The Sixers Bench Problem, and Its Solution
After the initial first-quarter push, the Sixers fell back down to earth as the team struggled to hold the lead without any bench production. The Sixers made it over 33 minutes into the game before scoring their first bench point. It was a frustrating game as the impressive efforts of Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris seemed to be for nothing as the bench’s struggles led to only a two-point lead at the half.
Something had to change. There had to be someone else on the bench, someone who hadn’t seen too many minutes as of late but could come in and provide the necessary spark. And that’s when Doc sent Furkan Korkmaz to check into the game.
Korkmaz was not the answer. He did, however, leave Doc Rivers with no choice but to try Shake Milton due to his poor play. The bench’s woes all changed when the, now rarely used, Shake Milton came into the game and splashed a three within 30 seconds. Milton wasn’t finished there either. It seemed all of his pent-up aggression of being banished to the bench unleashed itself in the form of 14 total points in only 14 minutes.
Shake Milton was clearly the spark this Sixers’ bench required, and he may very well have earned himself some more minutes starting in game three.
Not Out of the Woods Yet
The Sixers still have work today in preparation for their trip to Atlanta for game three of this best of seven series. The two teams will face off once again Friday night at 7:30 PM EST and you can catch the action on ESPN. You can also listen live as always at 97.5 FM The Fanatic.
This series is far from over but tonight’s win was an encouraging sign that the Sixers should still be the favorites to win it.