In just his third year in the NBA, former second-round pick Shake Milton has become something of a revelation off the bench for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Milton has appeared in 50 games for Philly, averaging a career-high 13.2 points and 2.9 assists in 23.9 minutes per contest. Meanwhile, his D-rating of 103.7 is the top mark on the team among rotation regulars.
More recently, though, the 6-foot-5 guard has failed to make an impact that is on-par with what fans have come to expect from him.
Over his last three games — two of which ended in defeat for the Sixers — Milton has connected on just 25 percent of his field goal attempts. He is also averaging 8.8 turnovers per 100 possessions over the span, the worst mark on the team among players appearing in all three games.
Given his recent struggles, George Hill’s return to the hardwood, as well as recent comments made by Sixers coach Doc Rivers, one has to wonder whether Philly’s super-sub might see a reduction in minutes/role as the regular season transitions into postseason play.
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Is Shake’s Spot in the Playoff Rotation in Jeopardy?
Although the 2020-21 regular season is officially in its home stretch, Rivers has yet to settle on a playoff rotation. At the moment, he is more focused on fielding a healthy roster of players.
“It’s always been a competition as long as I’ve been in the NBA,” he said of the postseason rotation. “Right now, I’m just trying to get all our guys on the floor [healthy] and then I’ll worry about rotations and stuff like that later. It’s tough to tell when you have so many guys out.”
Clearly, Milton will be a major factor in the competition for playoff minutes. However, after a poor performance during Philly’s loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, Rivers spoke about other players stepping up in direct reference to the 24-year-old’s recent rough patch.
“He’s just got to play better and that happens. Right now, I think he was a minus-17 and so you have games like that and you have a couple games like that. We still trust him 100-percent and I believe he’s going to figure things out,” Rivers said.
“But it’s a long season and when you’re struggling we have other guys that can step in and help us and that’s what happened tonight.”
One of those guys is Hill, who was the Sixers’ big, trade deadline acquisition. Over his first two games with the club after returning from a thumb injury, the 13-year veteran has averaged mroe than 20 minutes per contest.
For the moment, he isn’t infringing on Milton’s playing time. But once Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Tobias Harris are all back in the fold — and Matisse Thybulle returns to the bench — it could definitely come to pass.
Particularly if Milton’s struggles linger.
Sixers Face Measuring-Stick Series with the Milwaukee Bucks
Philly’s schedule hasn’t exactly been easy of late, with the team having faced the Suns, Brooklyn Nets and LA Clippers all in the last week or so. However, a daunting task lies ahead in the form of a back-to-back road engagement with the Milwaukee Bucks.
With a record of 35-22, the Bucks currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference, just 3.5 games behind the Sixers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and his crew took the Suns to the limit on Monday, falling in overtime by a 128-127 mark. The “Greek Freak” finished with 33 points and eight rebounds in the game.
The Bucks rank in the top eight league-wide on both sides of the ball, boasting an O-rating of 116.1 and a D-rating of 110.0. They also have the third-best effective field goal percentage in the league at 56.4.
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