The Philadelphia 76ers have been down three starters, with the two remaining ones, Tobias Harris and P.J. Tucker, playing through a handful of bumps and bruises that would have likely sidelined them for some rest if the roster was approaching full strength. It would have been easy for the Sixers to pack it in for a couple weeks and take a “Wait until the stars get back” mentality. Instead, they went 3-1 last week, with the lone defeat the prototypical “schedule loss” where they competed hard until the very end. These Hospital Sixers have wormed their way into our hearts and provided probably the most uplifting basketball we’ve seen from the club this season.
Leading the charge has been Contract Year Shake Milton. Let’s take a look at his numbers the last handful of games:
Shake Milton last 3 games:— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 28, 2022
29 PTS | 5 REB | 7 AST
24 PTS | 9 REB | 10 AST
22 PTS | 7 REB | 9 AST
On 62/47/94% shooting. pic.twitter.com/3dMgPBBRVN
This is the same Shake Milton who was practically out of the rotation at the start of the season. He’s now flirting with triple-doubles on a nightly basis, throwing gorgeous dimes left and right, and shooting 41.7 percent from behind the arc. Sniper Shake is certainly living up to his Twitter handle. Not only has Shake helped the team navigate this injury-strewn rough patch, but his rediscovered form should help unlock different lineup combinations and added bench punch when the stars return to action.
I also want to highlight the work of sweatshirt entrepreneur Paul Reed, who had two double-doubles last week, while averaging 1.5 steals and 1.75 blocks across the four games. Following in the footsteps of literally every Sixers fan, Doc Rivers at long last seems to trust BBall Paul for increased minutes. Reed has rewarded that trust by largely doing a better job keeping the foul totals down and playing within himself on the offensive end. If nothing else, if this stretch of the season serves to solidify his role as the backup center behind Joel, it will have been worth it.
Also, I have to shout out Tobias for playing through a couple injuries and channeling his higher-usage days with some excellent performances, De’Anthony Melton for being a terror to the opposition on both ends of the court, and Georges Niang for nailing one three after another while never stopping his trash-talking ways. Love you one and all, Hospital Sixers.
Tonight’s opponent, the Atlanta Hawks, is obviously a tougher test than the weekend’s double dip against the Magic. Despite losing two straight, including yesterday to Miami, the Hawks are tied with the Sixers at 11-9 on the season. The two teams split a home-and-home earlier this month, with each side winning on their own court. Of course, the Sixers had Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey available for those games, though not James Harden.
Tonight, Bogdan Bogdanovic remains out due to a knee injury and Clint Capela is day-to-day due to dental pain. Onyeka Okongwu is more than capable of filling a larger role should Capela sit out again.
Shake Milton in a duel with Trae Young to determine the elite shooter hierarchy in the league? De’Anthony Melton hounding both Trae and Dejounte Murray across every inch of the court? Paul Reed denying John Collins at the rim? Sign me up. Let’s ride, Hospital Sixers.