76ers

When volatile Sixers are at their best, 'can't nobody f--- with us'

When volatile Sixers are at their best, 'can't nobody f--- with us'

When they’re bad, this Sixers team can be very bad. 

A 13-point loss to the Raptors in Game 1 of this second-round playoff series that wasn’t as close as it sounds and a dreadful 36-point defeat in Game 5, the second worst in the playoffs in franchise history, illustrate that fact.

When they’re good …

Mike Scott described it well Thursday night after the Sixers’ 112-101 Game 6 win (see observations).

“It was all from the ball movement, everybody playing together,” Scott said. “When we move the ball and share the ball, can't nobody f--- with us, know what I'm saying."

For stretches of Thursday’s game, it was difficult to understand how the Sixers ever lose, let alone how they got blown out just two nights earlier in what had been the most important game of their season. That wasn’t the same as getting decimated by the Trail Blazers on Dec. 30, crushed by the Wizards on Jan. 11 or dismantled by the Mavs in a near-meaningless game on April 1. The stakes could have been higher for Game 5, sure, but not by much. 

With the season at stake, though, something close to the best version of the Sixers showed up. 

JJ Redick thought the performance was in character for the volatile Sixers. 

“Like I said the other night, Game 5 didn’t necessarily surprise me,” Redick said. “We rarely have those sort of back-to-back horrible games. It was almost like you could’ve predicted tonight as well.”

As Scott noted, the Sixers’ ball movement was excellent Thursday — they had 27 assists on 41 made field goals. Scott was on the floor for much of the Sixers’ free-flowing, fast-paced success — he was a plus-29 in 20 minutes. James Ennis found Scott in the right corner with 10:30 left in the second quarter for three of his 11 points, capping a 25-8 run.

Given the level the Sixers were playing, it seemed like there was no chance Scott would miss the shot. He felt the same way.

“Yeah, I kinda knew,” he said. “Probably a little bit too cocky. Just in the heat of the moment, I know it's cash. I just know what it is."

For a team trying to survive, it’s probably not ideal to be reliant on its potential, however vast it is. Redick might have a good pulse for the Sixers, but calling them “predictable” seems like a mischaracterization. They have the talent of a typical team in the Eastern Conference Finals, not the consistency.

But the talent is there, and even if it’s only gelled sporadically, the pieces looked sensational together Thursday. Tobias Harris lifted the Sixers to an early lead with eight first-quarter points, Ben Simmons attacked in the open floor and didn’t turn the ball over once, Joel Embiid’s immense defensive impact was reflected in his absurd plus-40 mark and Jimmy Butler sparked a late second-quarter run that elbowed the Raptors out of the game. 

Elton Brand’s in-season trades seemed less like a premature, ill-advised attempt to force square pegs into round holes and more like a bold, savvy plan to assemble a team that can beat anyone. It’s not the first time that’s happened, either. If the Sixers can replicate this performance on the road Sunday, they'll push the offseason questions to the side and ensure this won’t be the last.

“Before I came on the floor I kind of just looked at the starting five, our starting five,” Simmons said. “I was like, ‘We’ve got a lot of talent.’ And with that comes responsibility. Everybody has to do their job. It goes back to starting with defense, playing together, sharing the ball and moving it. It’s special.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers' Shake Milton is donating meals to local healthcare workers ... and shakes

Sixers' Shake Milton is donating meals to local healthcare workers ... and shakes

Shake Milton is donating 500 meals from plant-based restaurant HipCityVeg to Philadelphia-area healthcare workers helping to fight the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a fun twist, Milton is donating shakes, too. Of course he is.

Milton is also encouraging Philadelphians to “give Shake an assist” by visiting here and donating additional meals to frontline medical staff.

(f you’re curious about the origins of Milton’s unique nickname, Serena Winters detailed it well. His late father Myron had the nickname “Milk Man” when he played basketball at Texas A&M, and instead of Malik, Milton eventually became “Little Milkshake," then just Shake.)

The 23-year-old Milton had been a bright spot on the floor for the Sixers before the season was suspended on March 11, tying an NBA record for consecutive made three-pointers (13) and averaging 17.9 points and 4.4 assists over his last eight games. 

He’s one of several members of the Sixers organization who have made charitable contributions during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Joel Embiid, managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer have funded COVID-19 antibody testing for healthcare workers. Al Horford has donated $500,000 to coronavirus relief efforts in the Dominican Republic, as well as in each region of the United States where he’s played for a team.

Ben Simmons launched the “Philly Pledge,” which encourages contributions to local non-profit organizations and has received support from high-profile Philadelphia athletes and celebrities, including Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle. Limited partner Michael Rubin’s company Fanatics plans to produce a million masks and gowns for hospital and emergency healthcare workers. 

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

2020 NBA draft profile: Is Kentucky's Tyrese Maxey worth trading up for?

usa-tyrese-maxey-profile.jpg
USA Today Images

2020 NBA draft profile: Is Kentucky's Tyrese Maxey worth trading up for?

Tyrese Maxey

Position: Guard
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 198 pounds
School: Kentucky

Tyrese Maxey burst on the college basketball scene in the opening game of the season. Against Michigan State this past November, Maxey took over Madison Square Garden in a way no Knicks player has in over a decade ... or longer. He poured in 26 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the field as the Wildcats rolled to a win. 

Maxey won more than a handful of SEC Player and SEC Freshman of the Week awards throughout the season. Somehow, he missed the First Team All-Conference but was named to the second team and the All-Freshman SEC squad. But his poise on the court, the ability to play both the point and shooting guard postions, and his tendency to take over games late has him in late lottery pick talk.

Strengths

Maxey is strong and rangy for his size. His shooting numbers won't blow you away, but that's also a product of the system he played in during his lone season under John Calipari. With Ashton Hagans as the primary ball handler and scorer in the backcourt, Maxey was not tasked with taking over the offense even though he showed more than enough to prove himself capable.  

He shot a little over 43 percent from the field and just over 29 percent from three. He has excellent form, so making the transition to shooting from the perimeter in the NBA shouldn't be an issue. Maxey shot better than 83 percent from the free throw line, which gives a decent indication of his shooting capabilities. He's a good defender, especially in the pick-and-roll. And his size is a bit deceiving — Maxey can certainly hang with some of the bigger bodies he'll encounter at the next level and can absorb contact as well as create turnovers.

Weaknesses

His handle is average to slightly above average, as evidenced by his 3.2/2.2 assist to turnover ratio. Maxey also isn't as fast as some other guards out there, so there is problem for him creating some space for a shot or to make an uncontested pass. He will sometimes force the ball, especially on lobs, but that can be partly attributed to his age (19) and his youth in the game. 

Fit

Maxey is likely a lottery pick, but if he falls outside of that, there will be several suitors interested in his services, some entertaining the possibility of trading up. His competitiveness was unmatched on both ends of the court on Kentucky's squad this year. He is an all-out player, and not only runs the pick-and-roll well but is an even better defender of it. 

One thing that stood out to me about Maxey was his ability to fit into the system, no matter his role. Calipari tweaks his lineups, his offensive and defensive formations, and his schemes throughout the season. Maxey, whether he was running point, playing off the ball, or moving to the role of primary defender, filled every role he was asked. He plays within himself, knowing his game and not getting caught up in trying to do too much. The Sixers would have to trade up to get him, but in return they’d receive a poised combo guard who is ready to contribute right away.

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers