As the Philadelphia 76ers continue to navigate through their slew of injuries, there are beginning to be some silver linings showing through. Many members of the team have been given opportunities that otherwise would not be the case and a few of the Sixers are finding their footing. The team picked up an impressive shorthanded victory over the Nets, before losing at the hands of the Hornets on the second night of the back-to-back. While the fatigue was clear and understandable the team still battled up until the end.
Shake Milton and De’Anthony Melton have been two of the most impressive Sixers in their extended opportunities. Following the 107-101 loss to the Hornets, Milton was asked about his relationship with his new teammate.
As Milton stated when asked about Melton, “He is easy to play with, somebody that is so versatile who can do so many things offensively and defensively, he is just really easy to bounce ideas off of. When you’re on the court with him and able to catch a rhythm with him, it’s just something about people that really know how to play the game of basketball whether it be cutting, coming off pin downs, passing the ball, playing defense. Those are the kind of guys you want to play with, and luckily this team is filled with guys like that,” per Ky Carlin of SixersWire.
Milton’s On-Court Play
It has been a difficult career trajectory for Milton. He has seen his role go from being as important as the Sixth Man to a guy who did not get any minutes in four of the Sixers’ first five games of the season.
With Tyrese Maxey and James Harden both out, Philadelphia is extremely shorthanded at guard which puts a heavy burden on Milton. He has played over 30 minutes per game in each of the last four games and has been extremely productive in this role.
Against the Hornets, he tallied 22 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and two steals. This comes just two games removed from a 27-point performance against the Timberwolves. His on-ball ability and scoring pop are essential for the Sixers while they remain shorthanded. Milton has stepped up in a major way in recent games and may have earned himself a permanent role in the rotation.
Melton’s Impressive Play
While there has been some criticism of the Sixers’ offseason addition, P.J. Tucker and Montrezl Harrell are catching the brunt of it, Melton has impressed through the early stages of the season. The 6’2″ guard has already cemented a spot in the rotation but has seen his role shift with the absence of the Sixers stars.
He has tallied 19 or more points over the past three games which make for his three highest-scoring tallies of the season. Against the Hornets, he finished with 20 points, six rebounds, four steals, and three assists. His defensive impact is especially notable with Melton making use of his 6’9″ wingspan and clogging up passing lanes all over the court. The USC product also has not shied away from the spotlight and has taken some important shots for the Sixers already this year.
In the short term, both Milton and Melton will be essential to the Sixers’ success while the rest of the roster gets healthy. It also is clear how important they could be beyond this due to the lack of ball-handling on the roster. The M&M backcourt is showing signs of progress and how many opportunities they receive for the rest season will be a storyline to watch.