76ers

Stats that put Shake Milton's ridiculous 39-point performance in perspective

Stats that put Shake Milton's ridiculous 39-point performance in perspective

There aren’t many more superlatives we can use to describe the recent play of Shake Milton.

The second-year guard has taken over as the starting point guard with Ben Simmons out and on Sunday put up a career-high 39 points — including hitting 7 of 9 from deep — on the road against the Clippers in front of a national audience.

Milton also made history, making 13 consecutive threes over the course of three games to tie an NBA record. Brent Price and Terry Mills, both in 1996, also reached that mark.

Here are a few stats to put Milton’s strong play recently into perspective.

• Milton is the ninth player in franchise history to score at least 39 points in a game in his second NBA season. The last to do so was Joel Embiid, who dropped a then career-high 46 on the Lakers in 2017. Before that, you’d have to go back to Allen Iverson dropping 43 against the Timberwolves in 1998.

• He tied Robert Covington, JJ Redick and Dorell Wright for second-most threes made in a road game in franchise history. Isaiah Canaan holds the team record at eight.

• Only two players in Sixers history have hit seven threes on nine or fewer attempts in a game: Milton and Furkan Korkmaz. Korkmaz also went 7 of 9 against the Grizzlies back on Feb. 7.

• Milton became just the third Sixer to score at least 39 points and hit at least seven threes in a game, joining Dana Barros (twice) and Vernon Maxwell.

• He became the 13th player in the NBA this season to score 39 points on 20 attempts or fewer.

• The 23-year-old is the fourth second-year player to score 39 points and make seven threes in a game this season. The Hawks’ Trae Young (four times), Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. and Hornets’ Devonte’ Graham are the others.

• Thanks to his ridiculous hot streak, Milton now leads all second-year players in three-point percentage at 46.6 percent (minimum 80 attempts).

• Over his last three games, Milton has made at least four threes while shooting at least 66 percent from deep. He’s the first Sixer to ever do that and only 18 players in NBA history have done it.

All stats are from Basketball Reference.

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How to watch Sixers at Rockets: Storylines, live stream, game time and more

How to watch Sixers at Rockets: Storylines, live stream, game time and more

For the first time since the 2011-12 lockout year, the Sixers will play fewer than 82 games in a “regular” season. Their 73rd and final game before the postseason is Friday night against the Rockets.

Joel Embiid (left ankle soreness) and Glenn Robinson III (left hip pointer) are questionable, and Russell Westbrook is out for Houston with a right quad strain. 

Here are the essentials:

When: 9 p.m. with Sixers Pregame Live at 8
Where: AdventHealth Arena
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch: 

All about Monday 

Health and “spirit” are the two things Brett Brown has consistently said he hoped the Sixers would have intact for the postseason. The team’s health is significantly compromised with Ben Simmons out after undergoing surgery on his left knee, which is probably more important than an intangible quality like spirit. That said, the Sixers’ morale doesn’t seem too bad given the circumstances. There’s been a little time for everyone to wrap their head around Simmons’ injury and what it means, and the starting lineup enjoyed cheering on the reserves in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Raptors.

The Sixers’ first-round series vs. the Celtics begins Monday night (see series schedule). It sounds simple enough … but just get to tip-off of Game 1 with the healthiest version of the current team. 

Is hot outside shooting sustainable? 

Before the NBA’s hiatus, the Sixers were shooting 36.2 percent from three-point range. They’re at 40.6 percent in Disney World, and Joel Embiid and Shake Milton are the only rotation players below their season averages from long range. 

That large of an increase is likely attributable to a small sample size, at least in part, but it does seem that players like Al Horford, Furkan Korkmaz and Alec Burks are comfortable and shooting with confidence. Perhaps it will carry over to the playoffs. 

Small-ball prep 

The Rockets will finish either No. 4 or No. 5 in the Western Conference, a distinction that means very little when there are no true home games. It would therefore be unsurprising if minutes were limited for Houston’s key players. 

One thing that will be interesting to watch regardless is how the Sixers will handle a team without a conventional center. Houston is an extreme practitioner of small ball, but the Sixers’ top lineups will generally be larger than the Celtics’. Horford’s perimeter defense will be tested by Boston.

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NBA Rumors: Buddy Hield's comments should have Sixers fans intrigued

NBA Rumors: Buddy Hield's comments should have Sixers fans intrigued

The Sixers haven't even started the playoffs, but a potential offseason storyline is already bubbling up.

Kings guard Buddy Hield has been long tied to the Sixers as a potential trade target, from insider chatter to fan speculation, to his accidental (?) fueling of those rumors when he liked an Instagram post earlier this year with a hypothetical trade moving him to Philly.

So when the Kings' season ended Thursday, and Hield was asked if he's comfortable with his role off the bench in Sacramento heading into next season, his answer raised some eyebrows.

Including, I'd imagine, some in Philadelphia.

Here's what Hield had to say:

[Hield] provided a series of short answers during a Zoom session with reporters and offered a cryptic response when asked if he could be content with his role going into next season.

"Y'all know me," Hield said. "Y'all know how I talk. Y'all know how I feel. Y'all can read me well, so I'll let y'all answer that yourselves."

Pretty spicy. That doesn't sound like someone who wants to stay where he is!

Hield signed a four-year extension with Sacramento last October, but the Kings regressed in their first year under head coach Luke Walton, and The Athletic reported in February that Hield, unhappy with his role, might be eyeing a move elsewhere.

It doesn't sound like Hield's concerns about his role have changed much since then. If he's unhappy, he could theoretically ask for a trade - or Sacramento could pre-emptively try to get something for the still-young shooter.

I examined the potential fit back in April, including the hypothetical Hield-for-Horford deal from that fateful Instagram post:

In terms of contract length and salary hit, the Hield and Horford deals are strikingly similar, and Hield's game would be an instant improvement for the Sixers' offensive spacing: he's a two-guard who shoots a career 41.1 percent from deep, and can create his own shot. Plus, he's substantially younger than Horford.

Will the move happen? If the Kings deem their relationship with Hield unfixable, it's possible. Horford hasn't fit well in Philly, but he's still a savvy veteran with a good track record. And Hield would certainly check the boxes for the Sixers' front office.

Hield shot 39% from deep this year on 9.5 (!) three-point attempts per game, is a career 41% three-point shooter over 315 games, and would be a perfect match for the Sixers. 

We'll see.

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