ATLANTA — Furkan Korkmaz’s role with the 76ers is definitely different when he’s in the starting lineup versus coming off he bench.
“It’s a little bit tricky, because with the second unit, we get to play together all year,” Korkmaz said. “I think we find a good rhythm. Everybody knows now what they are capable of.”
As a starter, the sharpshooting Korkmaz’s job is to mostly space the floor and knock down three-point shots. He also has to help establish the tone. The one thing that doesn’t change is his mentality.
“I’m still trying to make shots, a play, attack closeouts,” he said. “If the team needs it, I can create, too. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”
That’s what the four-year veteran did in Friday’s 127-111 Game 3 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals at State Farm Arena as a reserve. It’s also what he was determined to do in Monday’s Game 4 at the same arena as a starter.
Korkmaz started in place of small forward Danny Green, who suffered a Grade 2 right calf strain early in Game 3. This marked his first career start in 18 playoff appearances.
On Friday, Korkmaz posted a postseason career-high 14 points and two steals. He made 3 of 6 three-pointers and finished a plus-24 in 27 minutes, 25 seconds off the bench.
“He’s a weapon,” Ben Simmons said. “He’s had a lot of great moments wearing a Sixers jersey, and I love playing with him. Offensively, he’s great. Defensively, he’s stepped up, too. He is another guy who’s taking on the challenge of guarding his man.”
The big issue for Korkmaz moving forward is being consistent.
In Game 1, he had seven points on 3-for-5 shooting, including making 1 of 2 three-pointers. Korkmaz also had four rebounds in 10:54. He followed that up by failing to score a point in Game 2 while missing all three of his shot attempts, including two three-pointers. He did, however, finish with a block and a steal in 6 minutes. Then he went on to excel Friday night.
Korkmaz looks to carry his Game 3 performance into Monday night and throughout the postseason.
“When you play good, everything looks good, you feel good, you feel confident,” he said. “Also, the most important thing is, we won [Game 3], and I think I helped the team. That’s why I’m really happy.”
With Green out, Korkmaz started the second half of Game 3. So it only made sense for him start Monday night.
“I don’t think there’s any better motivation than starting the game because you know you are going to be getting in the game,” said Korkmaz, who averaged 12.7 points in 11 starts during the regular season, 9.1 points overall. “You need to set the tone with the starters, and then you need to be good. That makes you motivated.”