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Most surprising Sixers' moments of 2019-20: Part 2

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Most surprising Sixers' moments of 2019-20: Part 2

While the NBA season is suspended, we take a look back at the most surprising moments of the Sixers’ season. In this edition, Sixers Pre and Postgame Live host Amy Fadool and Sixers reporter Noah Levick pick their moments. You can read Part 1 here. 

Fadool: The Shake Milton Game 

What did you really know about Shake Milton before March 1, 2020? Be honest. Did you know his real name was Malik? Do you remember him as a three-year starter at SMU under Larry Brown? Maybe, maybe not. You probably did know he was a 2018 second-round draft pick and that he played the majority of his first season in the G League. Search engines were working overtime on the night of March 1, though.  If you are an avid reader of this site (and why wouldn't you be), then you would have read the extremely timely piece on Milton written by Serena Winters on February 28. How's that for foreshadowing?

On this day in Los Angeles, facing a fully healthy Clippers squad, the Sixers found themselves heavily undermanned. Joel Embiid was out with a shoulder sprain. Josh Richardson started the game but left a little over 10 minutes in after suffering a nose contusion and concussion. And Ben Simmons was out with a nerve impingement in his lower back.

Enter Milton. It was a tall task for anyone, but especially a virtual unknown who played in just 20 NBA games his rookie season and before March 1, just 27 NBA games this season. But the stars were aligned for Milton on March 1. He was a perfect 5 for 5 for 11 points in the opening quarter, including a three-pointer. He added to that with a 5-for-6 effort in the second, when he also buried all of his long-range attempts and his lone free throw for 15 points and 26 total before the half.

He was being searched for online. He was trending on Twitter. He was certainly trending in the Clippers locker room at halftime. 

L.A. came out with a better defensive effort on a player they likely barely game-planned for, holding Milton to just three points in the third quarter. But think about that sentence. Just three points for a guy who had played less than 50 games in his two-year NBA career. Milton heated back up in the final quarter with 10 points, including two more threes.  

The Sixers dropped a close one to the Clippers, so there was no joy in Mudville on this night. However, mighty Casey had not struck out. Milton came out swinging during his at-bat and hit a home run. His final stat line read: 40 minutes (career high), 39 points (career high), 20 shots attempted (career high), 14 shots made (career high), seven three-pointers made (career high), five assists (one off his career high).  

And thus, the Shake Milton Game was born.

Levick: Furkan’s weekend 

Furkan Korkmaz owned the second weekend of February.

In wins over the Grizzlies and Bulls at Wells Fargo Center, he totaled 65 points and shot 25 of 34 from the floor (13 of 20 from three-point range). He pump faked opponents into oblivion, crashed the offensive boards, tossed alley-oops, took charges and threw down dunks. His teammates loved all of it.

Knowing the Sixers would be in need of three-point shooting this season, Brett Brown was inclined to give Korkmaz opportunities early. He wanted to “grow a bomber,” he said, and thought Korkmaz could fill the role after a summer in which the 22-year-old played well for Turkey at the FIBA World Cup and got into better physical condition. 

We wondered at the time whether Brown was too fixated on Korkmaz, to the extent that he might block out other options. We also weren’t sure Korkmaz could turn the label of “shooter” into actual success from three-point range at the NBA level. Heading into the season, he’d made 32.3 percent of his threes in 62 NBA games. 

After having his third-year option declined by the Sixers last season and not re-signing until July 24, Korkmaz has made a team-high 126 threes this year (39.7 percent percent). 

Whatever your feelings are about the role Korkmaz should have on the Sixers, it seemed everyone got a kick out of his performances that weekend. Korkmaz sure did, playing with a swagger and a smile. 

“It's a heck of a story, isn't it?,” Brown said.

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Buddy Hield's Instagram comment adds fuel to Sixers trade rumblings

Buddy Hield's Instagram comment adds fuel to Sixers trade rumblings

NBA players know their social media activity is monitored around the clock, so any likes, comments, or follows that reach the public are noteworthy.

Which is why one Buddy Hield Instagram comment has Sixers fans on high alert.

On Wednesday night, Hield posted a fairly normal social distancing Instagram post for an NBA player, of him working out. Nothing too crazy... until a Philly-area Instagram user with the handle @1kevaan dropped a "Trust the Process" in the comments, and Hield actually responded:

Now, it's no secret that Trust the Process is a Sixers rallying cry. After years of ignoring the phrase during the tanking years, even the team embraced the slogan, and allowed Embiid to introduce himself as "The Process" before games.

So Hield - a 27-year-old digital savvy basketball player who started playing in the NBA right around the same time "Trust the Process" reached the masses - not knowing what the phrase means is unlikely.

It's possible that Hield didn't think to connect the phrase to the Sixers while typing his response. It's equally possible that he did, because Hield's Instagram activity earlier this season pointed fans towards the idea of a Hield-to-Philly move in the first place.

Hield liked an Instagram post posing the idea of a Hield-for-Al Horford swap back in February, and hasn't removed the like in the month-plus since, which at least suggests that it wasn't inadvertent:

Hield signed a four-year extension with Sacramento back in 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.

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.

We'll see!

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Sixers broadcaster Marc Zumoff calls a day in the life of guy stuck at home

Sixers broadcaster Marc Zumoff calls a day in the life of guy stuck at home

The city of Philadelphia absolutely wishes we were currently watching the Sixers right now in the middle of a championship run.

Alas, live games are on hold for the time being, so there's a Marc Zumoff-sized void in our lives.

But given all of the extra free time broadcasters and media personalities have lately, Marc Farzetta was able to create the dream of longtime Sixers play-by-play man Zumoff calling his daily life at home.

"Farzetta rises from his slumber!" Zumoff begins as Farzetta gets out of bed. "Farzetta scoops, packs, and sips. Yes!" Zoo continues as Farzy makes his daily espresso.

Not only is Zoo doing the play-by-play, but he passed it over to his broadcast partners Alaa Abdelnaby and Serena Winters for the assist at one point.

The execution is as crisp as a Ben Simmons alley-oop to Joel Embiid. Hopefully we'll get plenty more Zoo, Alaa and Serena in our lives sometime soon.