The Philadelphia 76ers knew the battle they were in Monday night. It was the second night of a back-to-back after a late start on Sunday. They were hosting the first-place team in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat. And they were without both James Harden and Joel Embiid.
This seemed headed for a very predictable result.
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However, the short-handed Sixers put up a huge fight and did not back down despite not having the heavy lifters. Instead of being blown out, they somehow came away with a 113-106 win.
Tyrese Maxey led Philadelphia with 28 points and five rebounds. Shake Milton hopped off the bench and had 20 points, five rebounds and six assists in a huge effort. Furkan Korkmaz had 18 and six rebounds off the bench, and Georges Niang had 15. Tobias Harris added 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Here are the player grades from a shocking win:
Well, somebody had to score, right? With no Harden or Embiid, the Sixers turned to Maxey to carry the scoring load, and the second-year guard out of Kentucky is never afraid of putting up shots when the time calls for it. The real issue for him was defending Kyle Lowry. He got caught up on some screens and picked up some fouls that way. However, his scoring presence was big for a starting lineup down two big pieces. The 21-year-old continues to impress in big moments when the team needs him the most.
The Heat are always a tough matchup for Thybulle. They are such a physical team and they run him off so many screens to get him off Duncan Robinson, which allows the sharpshooter to get going for their offense. Then, Miami goes into that zone, and Thybulle is unable to make 3-pointers to bust the zone.
He had to score more in this one considering who was out, but the fact that Harris contributed in many areas on the floor is something he can carry with him for the future. In the grand scheme, the Sixers need more scoring from Harris, but if they can get him to continue to do the little things and contribute in those other areas, it would be a big help. At the end of the day, however, this is a game Harris needed to assert himself in and he wasn’t able to do so.
The Minivan got a start in this one with the team so short-handed, and he did what he does. He put up some 3s. He knocked down a good number of them. He was an emotional leader, and he was active on both ends of the floor. He had issues on the defensive end, but Niang continues to be a big contributor to this team.
Gotta give credit where it’s due. It was surprising to see Millsap start considering he hadn’t played since March 5, but he had some good defensive work early, forcing a turnover from Bam Adebayo and blocking a Jimmy Butler layup. On the offensive end, he had a couple of nice hustle buckets as he used his size and strength down low.
After not taking a shot in three straight games, Milton scored seven points in the opening quarter. This could be the game he gets his confidence back from. He can still be a helpful player off the bench when the heavy lifters come back. Maybe this is the game he builds some momentum from. He really was terrific in this one. He made some big plays, and he really gave the Sixers a huge boost off the bench.
The fifth-year guard from Turkey made his return to the rotation with the Sixers being short-handed, and he did some good things out there. He converted on a couple of drives to the basket, he grabbed some rebounds off pure hustle and he even knocked down some 3s. Like Milton, this could be a game that rebuilds his confidence. The Sixers don’t win this game without his contributions.
There are still some moments when Jordan is out there and he looks a little lost on defense. This could be because he is still new with the team and is still learning everything the team is trying to run, so he gets cut some slack there. He did grab a good number of rebounds, so the Sixers will take that from the backup big man.
Again, if the Sixers can get Green going before the playoffs begin, that would be huge for Philadelphia. He is so important to what they want to do on the offensive end with his shooting. If he can put games together like this one, it will be important for their hopes.