The Sixers played the Clippers tough on Sunday afternoon, dropping 130 points on the road while shooting 48.8% from three. They went wire to wire without Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Josh Richardson, who left the game with a concussion; they just didn’t have any juice on the defensive end, which is where Embiid and Simmons were sorely needed.
To that end, the Clippers scored 60 points in the paint, which the second highest number the Sixers have conceded this season. Compare that to 36 points in the paint allowed in the home win over LA a few weeks ago, which was the third fewest PITP this team has allowed in 2019-2020.
That was really the difference in this game, a brilliant offensive effort that was canceled out by a lack of mettle on the other end.
Shake shake shake Milton
Draftkings set Milton’s over/under on points at 10.5, which he eclipsed with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
I’m not sure what else there is to say that hasn’t been said. Shake was on fire Sunday, and he had quietly been playing really well in previous games, probably sliding under the radar a bit with the attention focused on Tobias Harris and Al Horford, plus whatever other national argument was taking place over whether you’d trade Embiid or Simmons right now.
Shake was 14-20 and hit seven of nine three pointers, handling the ball in a point guard role that looks so much better than any off-ball stuff we’ve seen from him in the past.
Watching Shake’s highlight reel last night I liked the following:
- He made good decisions as a pick and roll ball handler. Early in the game he was probing into the paint, then feeling his way into that elbow jumper or short pull-up.
- The deflection, steal, and left-handed flush was audacious. Honestly didn’t know he had it in him.
- There was a high pick and roll, set a few feet off the line, where Patrick Beverly went over the screen, but Shake had the wherewithal to pull up for a clean three point look instead of driving.
- He recognized a blown Paul George and Kawhi Leonard switch and drove for a layup.
- He hit two three-pointers that were three or four feet behind the arc. That’s Steph Curry and Trae Young territory.
It was pretty entertaining to watch LA try to adjust defensively in an effort to contain Shake. George, Leonard, and Patrick Beverly each took a turn defending him on Sunday, and George actually spent the longest amount of time matched up on him, her NBA Stats data:
Most importantly, it didn’t look like the moment was too big for Shake. He looked like a 10-year veteran in this game, and now the Sixers have a totally legit backup ball handler as they head into the playoffs.
One other note:
Shake shot 24% in November and finished the month 0-8 from three. Then Embiid got hurt and Milton actually got a run of games as a starter. He literally played eight games in a row of 20+ minutes, came out of rotation, came back in, and now it’s really clicking for him.
Of course you see a lot of those “Brett Brown and Elton Brand are morons for not figuring it out sooner,” takes which are off base. Shake WAS playing decent chunks of minutes here and there, and if you say you were calling for him to play more back in December, you’re probably lying. Most of those people wanted Trey Burke to play more, since they thought he was a better option to Raul Neto.
…or lack thereof.
Just no resistance inside for the Sixers last night. Montrezl Harrell went for 24 off the bench and I mentioned the super high PITP number earlier. Al Horford’s foul trouble certainly did not help, and when you add all of it up you’ve got the Clippers shooting 33-41 from the foul line, which results in an opponent free throw rate of 0.539, the Sixers’ worst number allowed this season.
Here’s every Harrell shot last night, which exemplifies the struggles Philly had on the inside:
And it’s not just big man play, of course. LA has a ton of wings who can score, and without Ben Simmons out there, that’s one of Kawhi, Paul George, Pat Beverly, Landry Shamet, etc, who gets an easier matchup.
They really played a great offensive game out there, but just not enough oomph defensively to beat that team on their home floor.
- Richardson was 4-6 and having a nice game before he had to leave.
- 25 for Tobias Harris, who is trying to pick up the slack.
- Furkan didn’t have an amazing shooting game, and you saw LA go at him offensively later in the game.
- Glenn Robinson III has struggled immensely since the trade. He hasn’t hit a single three.
- I feel like Matisse Thybulle has hit the rookie wall.
- Mike Scott shot the ball well.
- Alec Burks has had some nice moments, but you can tell he’s still trying to find his footing here.
Enjoy your Monday. We made it to March.