This is the moment the 76ers had in mind when they acquired George Hill from the Oklahoma City Thunder at the NBA trade deadline.
They needed a veteran point guard with a knack of producing in the postseason, and Hill got off to a great start in the Sixers’ first game of the opening-round series against the Washington Wizards.
“He’s going to be huge,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He was great [ in Sunday’s Game 1 victory.] He settled the second group down. They had one stretch where they were struggling a little bit, and I thought George kind of took them over. You could see it.”
That type of leadership will be vital if the Sixers are to make a long postseason run. Game 2 of the series isWednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Game 3 is Saturday night at the Capital One Arena in D.C.
Hill is set to play in his 129th career playoff game on Wednesday. The Sixers’ other reserve guard/wing options have played in a combined 21: Furkan Korkmaz (10), Shake Milton (five), Matisse Thybulle (five), and Tyrese Maxey (one).
Acquiring a veteran with postseason experience “was something we targeted early in the season, that we needed one more veteran with this group,” Rivers said. “George is so relaxing and calming out of the floor.”
That was visible in the 125-118 Game 1 victory.
Hill, 35, finished with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting in 18 minutes, 24 seconds. Seven of his points came in the first half with the highlight being a huge three-pointer. Hill also closed out the game with starters Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid, Danny Green, and Ben Simmons.
“I’m just here to do the job the best that I can,” Hill said. “I go out every day and try to lay it on the line because tomorrow is never promised. But, at the same time, having fun doing it.”
His Game 1 performance was far from surprising.
Hill has averaged 12.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and a shade under one steal a game, while shooting 37% on three-pointers with 91 starts in his 127 postseason appearances prior to this season.
“We knew who he was when we brought him in,” Seth Curry said. “Any time you can add a guy who is easy to play with, knows the game, is really unselfish whether he’s scoring or not, [brings] the same mentality, the same intensity to games, [it benefits the team.]
“You know what you’re going to get from him. I think everyone on the team trusts him when he’s on the floor.”