The Sixers came down to central Florida extremely shorthanded, with Matisse Thybulle and Jaden Springer joining an injury report that already featured three of their best players. Despite the limited rotation, Philly persevered over the Orlando Magic behind smart team offense and some inspired play from Shake Milton.
Shake Milton shines for the Sixers
Shake Milton had arguably his best game of the season, putting up 24 points on 7-13 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and 10 assists, falling just one board shy of a triple double. He routinely snaked his way into the lane to create opportunities for himself or his shooters spotting up on the perimeter. On defense, he displayed some incredibly active hands coming up with a steal, a block, and several strips and deflections.
Milton’s emergence in a larger role has helped keep this Sixers squad afloat, as he’s bolstered them to a 2-2 record in James Harden and Tyrese Maxey’s absences. His offensive creation has been paramount during this period, and he’s stepped up to the plate, averaging over 22 points and six assists so far in this stretch.
Tobias Harris continues to carry the load
Tobias Harris was also excellent with a heavier workload on his shoulders. Whenever the offense got into a bog, Tobi was there to bail them out with a timely spot-up triple or a showcase of his midrange prowess. He finished with 23 points on 10-21 shooting, grabbing 10 rebounds in the process.
As a team, Philly played excellent defense even without their anchor and DPOY candidate Joel Embiid manning the middle. The Sixers held the Magic to just 43 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent from deep. They also did a great job throwing multiple bodies at rookie sensation Paolo Banchero, limiting him to just 19 points and 5-12 from the floor.
Head Coach Doc Rivers has really taken advantage of the absence of his stars, implementing an offense that is more active, egalitarian, and constantly in motion. He’d be wise to remain steadfast in this philosophy even when his one-on-one scorers return. If he can keep the ball moving with Harden, Maxey, and Embiid back on the floor, the Sixers will be exponentially harder to guard.
And if Shake Milton can maintain this level of play when he returns to the bench, Philly’s reserve unit will be more along the lines of what fans and pundits expected after a highly lauded offseason. One of the Sixers’ biggest needs this season has been a reliable creator and ballhandler behind Harden and Maxey. They seem to have found their answer in-house.
Philadelphia won’t have much time to enjoy this win, as they’ll have to stave off the Magic’s revenge attempt just two days later on Sunday, November 27 in the second part of their away-and-away back-to-back series.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire