Shake Milton saved the 76ers’ season.
The reserve point guard provided a spark that led the Sixers to a 118-102 Game 2 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals. It was the Shake and Embiid Show. That’s because, while Milton provided the spark, Embiid finished with 40 points to go with 13 rebounds.
Here’s a look at the best and worst awards from Tuesday’s contest at the Wells Fargo Center:
Shake Milton gets this. I thought long about this one. I kept going back and forth between Milton and Embiid. Embiid was a beast, especially when he scored 17 points in the third quarter. Yet, the storyline was how the Sixers squandered a huge lead and had zero bench points before Milton entered the game with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left in that quarter. Milton not only scored the Sixers’ first bench points on a three-pointer, he woke up the bench players and spearheaded a 23-4 run. Milton finished with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting, including going 4-of-5 on three-pointers. He was a game-best plus-15 in 14:15.
Furkan Korkmaz gets this. The Sixers reserve guard failed to score while missing all three of his shot attempts. He was a minus-11 in six minutes. Aware that he needs to improve, Korkmaz went back on the court following the game to perform shooting drills.
Best defensive performances
This goes to Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle. The Sixers standouts took turns as the primary defenders on Atlanta’s Trae Young. Simmons had two steals and one block, while Thybulle had two blocks. Young finished with 21 points but was held to 6-for-16 shooting. Young is shooting 9-for-26 in the last six quarters of this series.
This goes to Embiid for finishing with 40 points and 13 rebounds. He becomes the fourth player in Sixers franchise history with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff game. It happened last on April 1, 1970, when Hall of Famer Billy Cunningham had 50 points and 10 rebounds. Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Dolph Schayes are the other Sixers to do it.
This goes to the Sixers reserves first-half scoring, or should I say lack of scoring. The Sixers’ bench failed to score a point, while the Hawks reserves had 32 in the first half.
Best of the best
This goes to Embiid’s second consecutive dominant game while playing with a small meniscus tear in his right knee. His 79 combined points are the third-most through the first two games of a playoff series in team history. Allen Iverson had 90 points in the first two games in the 2001 conference semifinals. Iverson scored 84 points in the 2003 first round.