New Sixers Starter Reveals Secret to Playing with Joel Embiid

Shake Milton, Joel Embiid

Getty Joel Embiid and Shake Milton have been pick-and-roll perfection for the Philadelphia 76ers.

There were a couple wow moments between Shake Milton and Joel Embiid against Atlanta. The newest pick-and-roll duo – or are they considered retro? – are displaying the poise and comfortability reserved for guys like John Stockton and Karl Malone. On one smooth-looking play, Milton drove by Trent Forrest as Embiid set a pick and then rolled out and waited for Milton to toss it back.

Embiid attacked Onyeka Okongwu, twirling around him for an easy bucket and drawing the contact for a free throw. It was textbook. Those two players have been sharing a court for the Philadelphia 76ers since 2018.

That’s five-plus years of built-in chemistry, something paying huge dividends with James Harden and Tyrese Maxey both nursing injuries. According to Milton, the point guard’s job is to get the best player on the team the ball in his sweet spot. It’s npt rocket science.

“I’ve been playing with him for what? Five years now? So, if you can get the best player the ball in his sweet spot, that just ups your chances of being able to play and have the ball in your hands. It’s easy,” Milton said. “I think we’re going to see a lot more of that, with the way the defense was kind of playing him, thinking he was going to drop or he’s going to shade Joel as I’m going down. It’s going to be one of those things where I draw two [defenders] and hit Jo, or I’m aggressive getting to the rim and find a little sweet spot around the rim.”

Embiid Creates Opportunity for Milton’s Rapid Success

Milton and Embiid were like a broken record on Monday night, rinsing and lathering and repeating their way to pick-and-roll perfection. Sometimes too easily. Milton stepped back for a dagger triple after Embiid sagged inside to draw away two defenders. He also drove aggressively to the rack and forced the defense to either close him out or guard Embiid at the nail.

When Embiid found a cutting Milton under the hoop for an easy deuce, the crowd erupted at Wells Fargo Center. It was an elite two-man game, one created due to opportunity.

“The NBA is all about opportunities,” Embiid said. “Right now, he’s got a huge opportunity because he’s extremely needed. We lost two of our ball handlers. He has a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders, but he’s been doing such a fantastic job and I think he’s always had it. It’s just about the opportunities he just never had. He had a couple chances, but it’s easier when you play regularly. It’s hard.”

Milton is averaging 23.2 points and 6.7 assists per game over his last six contests. Opportunity equals success.

“I always pride myself on, whether I miss time or not, I always pride myself on coming back and dominating,” Embiid said. “But for some other guys they need to play regularly to show what they can do. For him [Milton], and for the other guys who have been playing so well, it’s just about the consistency of coming in and knowing their roles, knowing what they have to do to be able to help us win.”

Tobias Harris Says Milton Doing ‘Everything’ Well

Embiid hasn’t been the only Sixers starter impressed with Milton’s play. When asked what the fifth-year guard has been doing so well in recent days, Harris paused for a minute and then replied: “Everything.” Harris elaborated by crediting his pace and ability to get to his spots on the floor.

“He’s showing how great of a player he is when given the opportunity, when given the confidence that he’s having right now,” Harris said. “He’s just got to keep it up as well. He works his tail off and now this moment is here for him and he’s able to really go out there and do what he has to do.”

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