Sixers Welcome ‘Shake & Bake’ Back to Explosive Rotation

Shake Milton

Getty Sixers guard Shake Milton made his 2021 season debut in a 110-102 victory over Detroit.

The Sixers’ second unit seemed a bit (pardon the pun) shaky without their point guard over the first four games. That all changed with 2:26 left in the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons. Shake Milton was the perfect prescription for Doc Rivers.

The fourth-year player shook off some early rust – Milton missed a 15-footer, then scored on a driving layup – before settling in and zapping life into the offense. He finished with 13 points and five assists in 16 minutes. Rivers liked what he saw from Milton, especially the pick-and-roll game he played with Furkan Korkmaz. The two took turns running the point at times.

“He [Milton] was great. Him and Furk, we started putting them in that little two-man action. We hadn’t ran that all year but they know it,” Rivers said. “It’s one of those actions where the only two people that know the play are those two and everybody has to read what they do and they did some good stuff. I think he [Milton] was rusty early on but overall he was fantastic.”

That second unit – Milton, Korkmaz, Georges Niang, Andre Drummond, Matisse Thybulle – got into a good grove early in the fourth quarter, highlighted by a mesmerizing 65 seconds of basketball bliss. Thybulle hit a three-pointer, then all five guys contributed to a turnover at the other end. Korkmaz capped the sequence with a deep triple, all the way from Kensington.

“It’s been fun. Those are two guys anybody would love to play with, you know Matisse [Thybulle] everything he brings defensively and just his energy in general and then you know Furk [Korkmaz] is such a savvy player, and he’s improved with his playmaking, too. Dre’s [Drummond] holding down the fort and then G [Niang], another smart player who can shoot the hell out of it. It makes it easy to play with.”

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‘Shake & Bake’ Ready to Contribute

Milton missed the first four games due to a sprained right ankle. He picked up the freak injury at practice on October 10. As much as it hurt Milton to be out of commission, the SMU product admitted to learning a lot during his time off. He was able to step back and take inventory of everything, including his mental state.

“You have a chance to get everything right,” Milton said. “Get your mentality right, get your physical right, and anything you might have been lacking in. It gives you a chance to step back and re-evaluate. That was big and, of course, I didn’t want to be out but I tried to use that time to my advantage.”

Milton said he was keeping a hot pack on his ankle when sitting on the bench. Maybe that helped him heat up offensively, too.

“It’s great to have ‘Shake and Bake’ back,” Tyrese Maxey said after the Detroit game. “He does what he does, gets hot extremely quick and he did really well today. It was great to see him.”

Sixers Prepping for Atlanta Hawks

Next on the schedule is the loathsome Atlanta Hawks, the team that knocked the Sixers out of the playoffs. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, October 30.

Joel Embiid talked about re-watching the game tape from their brutal Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals. His main takeaway was a general lack of execution.

“The main takeaway I got from that was execution,” Embiid said. “Our defense in that fourth quarter, the whole Game 7, for that matter was great. Everybody was playing with a lot of energy. I felt like everybody played hard and you could see it on the tape. Obviously, we had a few mistakes. We fouled shooters. We didn’t execute offensively.”

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