By Connor Thomas
I’ll be the first one to put my hand up, I have had no faith in Shake Milton over the past couple weeks. Really, since the bubble last year and a 1st round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics, I haven’t had faith in playoff Shake. I even opened up my 5 things the Sixers need to change in Game 2 with a paragraph that ended with a plea to not play him even a single minute.
And you know what, I was wrong. Shake Milton ended up playing 14 minutes off the bench in Game 2, pouring in a hugely important 14 points. He was a huge reason that the Sixers were able to even the series at 1 last night, and deserves all the credit in the world for that. In fairness, it was an incredible turnaround from Milton’s Game 1 performance, in which he played 1 minute and had 0 points and 1 turnover. Following that showing, and rightfully so, there might’ve only been 2 people in Philadelphia that still believed in Shake’s viability against Atlanta: Shake himself, and Head Coach Doc Rivers. Doc made sure to let his young Point Guard know to stay ready; that the team was going to need him at some point, and credit to #18, he was ready this time around.
Honestly, though, the Shake Milton complaints were not unfounded. This was a breakout performance after what was an incredible valley in production for one of the Sixers’ top regular season scorers. I’ll apologize for my tweets saying not to play him, but no one should feel bad about doubting Shake’s ability to perform in the playoffs. To this point, he hadn’t. Who knows, maybe the Shake takes added enough fuel to his fire to allow him to take over the 3rd and 4th Quarters of last night’s game. Bullying has worked in Philadelphia in the past.
The bottom line is it appears Shake had a breakthrough last night that could have an incredible impact on the Sixers’ playoff run. Now that he has proven to fans, coaches, and himself that he is capable of catching fire and igniting a run for the Sixers, it is up to him to replicate that feat when he gets his next opportunity, likely in Game 3 in Atlanta.