Shake Milton considers himself the 76ers’ setup man.
“I think my role is going to be to come in and set everybody up,” the point guard said Sunday, “make sure everybody is in the right spots, get the offense going like we need it to go, and knock down shots when I’m open.”
It’s a quietly vital, yet different job from the one he had in the final eight games before the NBA shutdown. Back then, he was a scoring threat while starting at point guard while Ben Simmons was sidelined with a pinched nerve in his lower back.
The Sixers were also without Joel Embiid in five of those games and Josh Richardson in three of them. So, Milton’s role was to get buckets. And he didn’t have a problem doing that.
His highlight was a career-high 39-point performance in a 136-130 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1. He made 7-of-9 threes, including his first five, to go with five assists.
In the process, Milton tied the NBA record for the most consecutive made three-pointers with 13 over three games.
During the restart, the Sixers have kept Milton as the starting point guard and shifted Simmons to a point forward role. With Simmons, Embiid, and Richardson on the court, Milton is more of facilitator and floor spacer than a go-to guy.
So, his scoring has dropped.
He finished with 6 points on 2-for-4 shooting overall — 1-for-3 on three-pointers — to go with three assists and one turnover in 17 minutes in the Sixers’ 90-83 scrimmage victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. On Sunday, he made 3-of-6 three-pointers while scoring 11 points in a 102-97 scrimmage loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He shot 4-for-10 overall and had three turnovers to go with two assists in 20 minutes.
The Thunder guards were physical with the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Milton. Physicality is something he can expect, especially once the postseason begins on Aug. 17.
Teams will attack Milton when the ball is in his hands.
“They are going to jump him,” coach Brett Brown said after Sunday’s scrimmage. “They are going to spin him. They are going to crawl into him. They’re going to whack him when they can.”
The coach felt Milton did a good job of getting the Sixers into their offense despite the Thunder’s physicality.
But Simmons also did a lot of the ball-handling in that game, while Milton spotted up behind the three-point line.
Defensively, Milton said he’s focused “on the little things, the details and knowing personnel.”