Milton Shines in Sixers Double-digit Win
Thursday night, the Sixers and Cavs faced off at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, with Philadelphia coming out on top, 114-94.
In the teams' first two matchups, Cleveland took both games, and their dynamic 22-year-old guard Collin Sexton led the way for them, scoring a combined 50 points. Historically, Sexton is the type of player that this Sixers unit has struggled to contain: a small, quick scoring guard.
However, this was not the case this night. Even though Sexton still scored 24, he wasn't anywhere near as effective for them as he had been in their prior matchups. And along with the other half of their young backcourt also struggling in Darius Garland, Cleveland stood no chance after they went ice cold, shooting only 14/38 from the field and 2/14 from range in the second half.
Sixers guard Shake Milton put on a dazzling display, scoring a game-high 27 points off the bench on 10/14 shooting and 5/7 from three. This was a very encouraging sign for him, and this type of performance should become more frequent with the integration of newly-acquired veteran guard George Hill, who will take the burden off of Milton's shoulders of needing to do absolutely everything for that second unit.
The Sixers bench was the driving force behind this win, scoring 65 of the team's 114 points. And they picked a good game to go off. Tobias Harris played only 15 minutes due to foul trouble. And Ben Simmons struggled again, shooting only 2/11 from the field. In a game where they were already without Joel Embiid, their two best players having games like this didn't seem to hurt them that much at all.
Dwight Howard gave the team 26 extremely productive minutes, tying his season-high in points with 18, while also blocking two shots and grabbing a whopping 15 rebounds. Seth Curry was feeling it in the first half, and similar to all of the other starters once the game got out of reach for Cleveland, he didn't need to play big minutes in the second half. Curry hit 5 triples en route to his 19 points in only 24 minutes of action.
Kevin Love got off to a hot start for the Cavs, scoring 8 points within the first few minutes, but ended with only 13. Dean Wade also had himself a nice night, but it wasn't nearly enough. Even without Embiid, the talent discrepancy was just too wide. And on a night where Cleveland got outrebounded by 23 and committed twice as many turnovers as the visiting 76ers, very rarely will that award you a victory.
Thursday's game marked the end of a season-long six-game road swing, which saw them finish with a record of 4-2. The Sixers will return back to the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday for their next matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves. On Wednesday night, NBA insider Shams Charania announced that all-star center Joel Embiid is expected to make his return for this game against the Wolves, after sustaining a scary knee injury back on March 12. With this win, the Sixers' record in this 11-game stretch without Embiid will settle at 8-3.