Philadelphia 76ers second-year guard Shake Milton had the definition of a bounce-back game against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. To say that Milton had a rough first seeding game in Orlando would be an understatement. Against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night, Milton was held scoreless in 19 minutes of action, and his performance was highlighted by a sideline shouting match with Joel Embiid. He looked lost out on the floor at times and didn't seem to play with the confidence that he had built up over the season.
The Sixers went on to lose the game, which wasn't especially surprising given the fact that their starting point guard was a non-factor. On Monday night though, Milton looked much more comfortable out on the court, and his poise ultimately won the game for the Sixers. With eight seconds remaining in the contest and the Sixers trailing by two, Milton hit arguably the biggest shot of his young career.
After throwing the ball in to Al Horford from the sideline, Milton stepped inbounds and received a return pass from Horford. Dejounte Murray, who was guarding Milton, had sagged off to apply extra pressure on Embiid in the post. Milton took advantage of the extra space afforded by Murray and stepped into a healthy three. The shot hit the bottom of the net, and the Sixers went on to win the game, 132-130. You can see Milton's shot below:
Milton finished the game with 16 points, five rebounds, and three assists; a big step up from his production against Indiana. He also shot 66 percent from the field over the course of the contest, and 50 percent from deep. This is the type of production that the Sixers envisioned from Milton when they moved him into the starting lineup at the onset of the restart of the season, and it is the type of play that they will hope to continue to see from him moving forward.
After the game, Milton's Sixers teammates were understandably excited for the young guard.
"I'm happy for him just because this is his first go-around doing it on this stage and he's a great young player," Philadelphia forward Tobias Harris said in a virtual press conference with media members after the game. "He works really hard, and it's all about confidence and keeping yourself upright and knowing who you are and tonight he was able to really establish that and make big shots for us. So that was key."
"I was really happy [for him]," Embiid added. "It's good to be in that situation and hit the game-winner. I'm extremely happy for him. He's been working really hard this season and it's showing. That was a big shot he hit and it gave us the win."
While Milton will get a ton of credit for hitting the game-winning shot, and rightfully so, Embiid also deserves major kudos for being such a presence and drawing Murray toward him, which afforded Milton the space to shoot. The Sixers clearly still have a lot of work to do before postseason play gets underway, but this was a solid win for the team, and potentially a big confidence-builder for Milton.