Shake Milton

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Brown, Bembry, Drummond, Milton

Nets head coach Steve Nash knows he needs to be careful not to overburden star Kevin Durant, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Durant, who leads the NBA in scoring with 29.5 points per game, is shooting a career-high 58.5% from the field. Nash says the team is intent on finding Durant more shots within the flow of the offense, instead of relying on him to bail them out with his great one-on-one play.

That’s the luxury of All-Star players, that they can do that. Kevin’s obviously elite at scoring and isolating, and there are times when we lean on him. But it’s important for our team that we don’t overburden (him),” said Nash.

You want to give him as many great opportunities to score out of the flow and out of teamwork, rather than have to face a loaded defense all night. So while that is a luxury — that he can make plays against anyone — we definitely don’t want to rely on that. That’s the antithesis to our vision. But that is a luxury, when he can just rise up and score over people.”

The Nets have just seven players back from last season, and Nash says all the new faces are still trying to figure out how to play together.

It’s a new group, and we’re asking them to play a lot of basketball where they’re reading situations, playing early, and with a randomness, but with principles,” Nash said. “That takes time to develop that feel for one another. But I think that’s where our group needs to go. … It still takes time and there are only stretches of the game where we execute that vision.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Matthew Brooks of NetsDaily.com provides a video breakdown of how the NetsBruce Brown and DeAndre’ Bembry have played key roles in shaping the team’s newfound defensive identity. Brown re-signed with Brooklyn in the offseason, while Bembry was added in free agency.
  • With Sixers star Joel Embiid sidelined with COVID-19, it’s Andre Drummond‘s time to shine, opines Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pompey believes that Drummond, a free agent signing on a one-year, minimum-salary contract, has already proven to be a clear upgrade over Dwight Howard, Embiid’s replacement last season. Drummond is averaging 15 points, 20 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game in three starts this season.
  • Sixers guard Shake Milton has given the team a boost since returning from a sprained ankle, according to Gina Mizell of the Inquirer. Milton has shown a willingness to play multiple roles and is competing harder on defense. “However it comes, I think I’m going to be prepared,” Milton said. “My mentality every game is to come in and bring the team energy, pick up full court, play-make on offense, guard my guy on defense and do whatever I can to help the team win.”

Sixers Notes: Milton, Offseason, Contention, Simmons

Sixers reserve guard Shake Milton continues to struggle with a sprained ankle. Head coach Doc Rivers said today that Milton was “nowhere near” being ready to rejoin his teammates in Philadelphia’s season-opening contest on Wednesday against the Pelicans, tweets Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times. Rivers added that he expects Milton to be unavailable “for a while.”

The 6’5″ Milton, selected with the No. 54 pick in the 2018 draft, enjoyed a breakout year with the Sixers during the 2020/21 season, averaging career highs of 13.0 PPG, 3.1 APG and 2.3 in 63 games.

There’s more out of the City of Brotherly Love:

  • After a tumultuous offseason that saw an extended holdout from All-Star Ben Simmons, the Sixers have their work cut out for them to remain a contender in the East. John Hollinger of The Athletic supplies a fresh recap for Philadelphia’s offseason moves and examines the club’s cap situation in a new season preview. Hollinger offers high marks for the club’s value free agency signings, especially applauding the addition of reserve power forward Georges Niang and the re-signings of wings Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz to team-friendly deals.
  • The Sixers are optimistic they can compete for a title, even with the situation surrounding disgruntled star Ben Simmons still unsettled, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer“If you don’t have great expectations, you are not going to have great success,” head coach Doc Rivers observed. “We have to be able to handle the expectations that we create.”
  • After successfully clearing team health and safety protocols, embattled Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons has resumed practicing with Philadelphia as a full participant, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Head coach Doc Rivers said he intends to treat Simmons as if he will playing with the club going forward. “Well we have to,” Rivers said. “As a coach, I’m literally in a tough spot, right? But we literally have to.” According to an ESPN report, it remains uncertain when Simmons will play actual games for the Sixers. “When he’s ready, he’ll play,” Rivers said.

Eastern Notes: Rose, Martin Twins, Ball, Milton

Knicks guard Derrick Rose downplayed the ankle injury he suffered during the team’s preseason win over Washington on Saturday, as relayed by Marc Berman of the New York Post. Rose was dealing with the injury throughout the fourth quarter and left for the locker room with one minute remaining.

“It’s nothing serious at all, but if I kept playing I probably would’ve made it worse,’’ Rose said. “I think I probably did it myself. It’s the second game — all this is new, moving around, Thibs training camps are different. I just have to take my time. I’m getting older. I tweaked it but didn’t twist it all the way. Thibs understood [when I took myself out].’’

Rose is expected to serve as the team’s backup point guard behind Kemba Walker this season. He played a key role in the team’s success last season, averaging 14.9 points, 4.2 assists and 26.8 minutes per game in 35 contests.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

Atlantic Notes: Nash, Irving, Sixers, Raptors

Kyrie Irving is back with the Nets, but he won’t be traveling with the team for tomorrow’s preseason game at Philadelphia, and coach Steve Nash seems resigned to the fact that Irving is going to start missing home games unless he gets vaccinated, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

I think we recognize he’s not playing home games,” said Nash. “We’re going to have to for sure play without him this year; so it just depends on when, where and how much.”

However, Nash also noted that things can change quickly in this unprecedented situation, per Lewis.

Right now we assume he’s not going to be available for home games,” Nash said. “Anything can change. Who’s to say, the city’s ordinance could change? Anything could change.”

Right now we’re just trying to remain flexible, open-minded and figure it out as we go, because information is coming in by the half-day here, whether it’s Paul [Millsap’s health and safety protocol] situation, Kyrie’s situation or the laws. We found out Friday he could come in the building, so things are shifting. No one’s been through this before, and we’re just trying to figure it out as we go.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton of the Sixers appear locked in a battle over the starting point guard spot with Ben Simmons still away from the team, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. The players have taken turns starting the team’s first two preseason games, with mixed results for both. However, Bodner thinks Maxey has much higher upside and should be given the opportunity to start, given Milton’s physical limitations.
  • In the same article, Bodner notes that second-year guard Isaiah Joe has been outstanding thus far in the preseason and is making a strong case for a spot in the Sixers‘ rotation. Joe is averaging 16.5 PPG while shooting 7-12 (58.3%) from three, and he’s also shown growth as a shot-creator and defender. Coach Doc Rivers has taken notice, per Bodner. “He’s starting to put the ball on the floor. That’s something he couldn’t do (last year),” Rivers said. “He made plays tonight getting into the paint there’s no way he could have done that last year. Good for him because he’s putting all the work in.”
  • The Raptors have been impressed with free agent acquisition Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk thus far, writes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.
  • Khem Birch is out of health and safety protocols and could be available for the Raptors tomorrow against Houston, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Simmons, Niang, Milton

Asked on Thursday about recent reports that stated Ben Simmons wants an offense built around him and doesn’t want to play with Joel Embiid anymore, the Sixers‘ star center was anything but evasive. Embiid provided reporters with a four-minute response, pushing back against the idea that the team has built its offense around him and neglected Simmons’ needs.

“I feel like our teams have been built, whether it’s the shooting needed or stretch five and all that stuff, I feel like he’s always had it here,” Embiid said, according to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. “And we still have it. Seth (Curry), one of the best three point shooters ever. Danny Green, Tobias (Harris) is a 40 percent three point shooter. Furkan (Korkmaz) coming off of the bench. At times Shake (Milton), I think he can be a better shooter, but you know, he can get hot. We just added Georges (Niang). So I feel like, our teams have always been built around his needs.

It was kind of surprising to see. We’ll say that, even going back to, I mean, the reason we signed Al (Horford). We got rid of Jimmy (Butler), which I still think it was a mistake, just to make sure he needed the ball in his hands, and that’s the decision they made. Like I said, it is surprising.”

Embiid went on to say the situation was “disappointing” and “borderline disrespectful” to the players on the 76ers’ roster whose spots aren’t as secure as Embiid’s or Simmons’.

Some guys rely on the team being successful to stay in the league and make money somehow,” Embiid said. “Because if you’re on a winning team, you’re always going to have a spot in the league, just because you’re on a winning team and you contributed.”

Embiid did stress that the Sixers are a much better team with Simmons than without him, adding that he hopes his All-Star teammate chooses to end his holdout and report to the club. However, if Simmons was unmoved by Embiid’s more conciliatory comments on Media Day, it’s unlikely that he’ll be swayed by the big man’s more combative response today.

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) took a deep dive into the Simmons situation to try to identify the teams that could use the three-time All-Star and have the right combination of players, contracts, and draft assets to make a viable offer for him. Marks names the Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Pacers, Timberwolves, Spurs, and Raptors as the six clubs that check all the boxes.
  • Without Simmons in their starting lineup, the Sixers will likely sacrifice some size and will be without their top perimeter defender. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer explores the ripple effect of Simmons’ absence, noting that the team is considering experimenting with a big starting lineup that includes Georges Niang. “There’s options there,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “We don’t know if any of them work yet.”
  • Since Tyrese Maxey is expected to be part of the Sixers’ regular starting lineup, Shake Milton will be tasked with leading the second unit, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Rivers is pleased with what he’s seen from Milton so far in that role. “You can tell he’s put a lot of work in at that position,” the head coach said. “Last year, honestly, he came into the year and had no idea that he’d be a point guard.”

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Sixers, Simmons, Horford

Having already received clearance to play their home games in Toronto in 2021/22 after spending last season in Tampa, the Raptors are now waiting to see whether the Ontario provincial goverment will allow them to play in front of full-capacity crowds at Scotiabank Arena, writes Kevin McGran of The Toronto Star.

Both the Raptors and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs – who share Scotiabank Arena – intend to only allow fully vaccinated individuals to attend games. They’re expecting to get an answer from government officials this week, per McGran.

“With a fully vaccinated venue, it is our belief that we can safely host a full capacity event,” MLSE spokesperson Dave Haggith said. “With tickets on sale, we are planning for eventual full capacity in 2021 and our ticketing rollout has built-in flexibility so we are ready for potential scenarios.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • With the Ben Simmons situation still unresolved, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic examines what the Sixers‘ rotation might look like in 2021/22 both with Simmons and without him. Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, and Furkan Korkmaz would receive the biggest minutes boosts if Simmons holds out and hasn’t yet been traded.
  • Jared Dubin of FiveThirtyEight considers what past trades of All-Stars can tell us about the Simmons situation. As Dubin outlines, pieces-and-picks packages are typically the most common returns for All-Star players, while the Sixers are seeking a star-for-star deal, increasing the degree of difficulty.
  • Al Horford‘s return to the Celtics means the team will be able to comfortably run out lineups featuring two big men again. Jared Weiss of The Athletic explains why that’s a good thing for Boston.

Sixers Notes: Floor/Ceiling, Reed, Milton, Personnel Changes

In a mailbag for The Philly Voice, Kyle Neubeck examines the potential floor and ceiling of the Sixers, assuming they take their current roster into the regular season.

As Neubeck outlines, a worst-case scenario would see a disgruntled Ben Simmons refusing to rejoin the team and president Daryl Morey sticking to his very high trade demands for the point guard, causing the Sixers to fall way behind during a difficult start to the season and not being able to recover, especially if Joel Embiid happens to miss any time due to injury.

What Neubeck refers to as the “pie in the sky” scenario is that – with last year’s playoff humiliation behind him – things click into place for Simmons, who comes back renewed and recommitted, and the Sixers continue their hunt for a championship. A more realistic ceiling, Neubeck writes, is that the team plays together for one more year, as Simmons returns to form, Tyrese Maxey takes a mini-leap and Embiid stays relatively healthy, all of which should combine to give the 76ers a decent chance against the other top teams in the East.

We have more on the Sixers:

  • Neubeck also examines the question of what G League and Summer League standout Paul Reed needs to add to his game to become a consistent rotation player. The two keys are the outside shot and converting his impressive shot-blocking numbers into genuine back-line organizational ability. There’s a difference between blocking shots and being the backbone of a team’s defense, Neubeck writes, but Reed showed improved decision-making under the Summer League coaches, and should be able to progress in that department in time.
  • As for guard Shake Milton and his role with the team moving forward, Neubeck writes that being the only consistent offensive force off the bench probably over-burdened the 24-year-old guard, but Maxey’s emergence as a point guard could help simplify Milton’s role as more of a pure scorer. Given that Milton is on a cheap contract and has proven capable of swinging a crucial playoff game single-handedly, Neubeck writes that there’s no reason to think he isn’t a part of the team’s plans.
  • In a surprise move, the Sixers dismissed several scouting and development staff members, tweets Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer. Scouts Rod Baker and Jordan Cohn were let go, as was Delaware Blue Coats GM Matt Lilly, among others. Pompey writes in a separate tweet that around 17 staff members were let go in the cost-cutting move. Senior Director of Equipment Operations Scott Rego, who had been with the team for 34 years, was among the firings.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Milton, Simmons, Curry

Joel Embiid didn’t get the MVP trophy he thought he deserved, so he turned his attention back to the pursuit of an NBA title, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Shortly before the start of Tuesday’s game, Denver’s Nikola Jokic was announced as this year’s MVP, with Embiid finishing a distant second. The Sixers center responded to the news with 40 points and 13 rebounds in a Game 2 win over Atlanta.

“It’s disappointing because as a player, you work hard for moments like this,” Embiid said. “But then again, it’s out of my control. There’s nothing I can do about it. You just got to come out every year and just be ready and do my job. But I’m focused on the playoffs, I’m focused on winning the championship. … So I’m not worried about those awards and stuff. If and when I’m holding that (Larry O’Brien) Trophy, anything else won’t matter.”

Embiid has been dominant in the first two games against the Hawks, averaging 39.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 blocks per game despite dealing with a small meniscus tear in his right knee that he suffered in round one. He admits having “limited mobility,” but said he’s found ways to adjust his game to still be effective.

“No excuses,” teammate Tobias Harris said. “He understands that. This is the playoffs. The way the NBA season was, I don’t think anybody is 100%. So when he steps on the floor, he has that attitude and that mentality that it’s, ‘win.'”

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • After playing just 38 seconds in the series opener, Shake Milton became a difference maker in Game 2, notes John Schuhmann of NBA.com. The third-year guard came off the bench to score 14 points and help Philadelphia break open a close game.
  • Another low-scoring performance by Ben Simmons is reviving questions about how far the Sixers can advance in the playoffs with minimal production from their second-best player, points out Brad Botkin of CBS Sports. Simmons finished with four points and only took three shots from the field in Game 2.
  • Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic looks at how Seth Curry has been able to rise from his early days in the G League to be an important contributor on a playoff team. Curry, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Mavericks, is averaging 24.0 PPG in his last three games.

Atlantic Notes: Green, Nets, Milton, Boucher, Raptors

Warriors forward Draymond Green said he believes the Nets are “the team to beat” in the East after losing a 134-117 game to Brooklyn on Saturday night, as relayed by Peter Botte of The New York Post.

Green tallied six points, seven rebounds, and eight assists in the contest, playing against former teammate Kevin Durant for the first time since Durant left Golden State in the summer of 2019.

“They’ll be really dangerous in the East. I think there are some other good teams in the East that pose a threat to them, but they’re the team to beat in the East, if you ask me,” Green said. “It’s my opinion. That doesn’t mean anything, but that’s my opinion, they’re definitely the team to beat in the East.”

As it stands, the Nets hold the third-best record in the East at 16-12, trailing only Milwaukee (16-10) and Philadelphia (18-9) in the conference standings.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Sixers guard Shake Milton will miss Monday’s game against the Jazz due to an ankle injury suffered last week, head coach Doc Rivers said, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Rivers didn’t offer a specific return timetable for Milton, who has already missed the last two games.
  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher has been the team’s most improbable success story, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. Boucher has proven to be effective on both ends of the floor this season, averaging 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game.
  • The Raptors are striving to maximize their practice time as the season progresses, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes. Naturally, Toronto is also concerned with maintaining a balance and ensuring its players don’t get injured by increasing the workload too much, as guard Fred VanVleet explained. “It’s a fine line, because we have a very inexperienced team in some regards,” VanVleet said. “We’re not the sharpest team at times this year, so it feels like we need those reps. But at the same time it’s been a grind and we need to manage the schedule, manage guys’ bodies.”

Atlantic Notes: Harden, D’Antoni, Milton, Baynes

James Harden looked like the star the Nets were expecting as he made his debut with the team Saturday night, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Harden didn’t get to practice with his new Brooklyn teammates because the four-team trade wasn’t finalized until shortly before game time, but he still posted a 32-point triple-double in a win over Orlando.

A number of teams were rumored to be pursuing Harden, but the Nets were his first choice when he made a trade request to Rockets management. Reuniting with Kevin Durant was part of the reason, but he also wanted to rejoin former Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, who is now an assistant in Brooklyn.

“When (ex-Rockets general manager Daryl Morey) and Mike left, I sat back and reevaluated everything. Those are two guys I was very comfortable with and the decision-making for the organization,” Harden said. “Once they left, I had to figure out is this organization going into a rebuilt stage or were they still trying to compete at the highest level.

“(D’Antoni) was a part of it. Mike’s an unbelievable coach. He’s been doing it for a very, very long time. Obviously Mike is a factor. Being comfortable with him being comfortable with Kevin, knowing (Kyrie Irving), just those four pieces right there made it easy. Obviously them being in Brooklyn, for me it was a no-brainer.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers were also in the running for Harden, and they believed they were so close to a deal that the agents for Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle informed them of the pending trade, Lewis adds in the same story. But the Rockets never called the Sixers back after getting the offer from the Nets, reportedly because Houston owner Tilman Fertitta was determined not to send his star player to Morey.
  • Sixers guard Shake Milton started the final 32 games of last season, including the playoffs, but he seems better suited to provide instant offense as a sixth man, which is his role under new coach Doc Rivers, according to Keith Pompey of The Phildelphia Inquirer“I just want to do whatever is best for the team,” Milton said. “Whatever helps the team win, it really doesn’t matter if I’m starting or not. It’s an opportunity. I have a really good opportunity coming off the bench right now.”
  • Free agent addition Aron Baynes is only seeing about 16 minutes per night for the Raptors, but coach Nick Nurse plans to expand his role, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.” We’re gonna play Aron, we’re gonna try to get some extended minutes out of him,” Nurse said. “I know we’re not getting very much out of him at this point. We read the game … and his stint is gonna last as long as things are going well or he’s impacting well.”