The Philadelphia 76ers have recently been without their top three players, Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey. Maxey has a small stress fracture in his foot, Harden sprained a tendon in his right foot, and Embiid has a left mid-foot sprain. This didn’t leave the 76ers in a great position, or so we thought.
Embiid is unquestionably an MVP candidate, Maxey is the team’s young star, and Harden is having a revival season after the tumultuous past year; however, while it wasn’t expected that the team would be doing well without their top three, Philadelphia has done a decent job steadying the ship. The team is 10-9 now, which isn’t bad in a loaded Eastern Conference. How have they done it?
Embiid’s last game before injury was against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and thank god the 76ers had him against Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. Embiid put up an impressive 32 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals in the 109-112 loss, but what was really impressive about the game was the performance of Shake Milton and De’Anthony Melton. The two of them combined for 46 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists, while taking over where Harden and Maxey had left off.
Fast forward to November 22nd, and the 76ers were home against the Brooklyn Nets for Ben Simmons‘ return game. Philly won this game 115-106, thanks to a large array of contributors. Milton went for 16 points on 50% shooting, Melton had 22, and Tobias Harris stole the show with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, as well as many clutch shots down the stretch. Paul Reed and Georges Niang each contributed big time off the bench, with Reed having a 19-point 10-rebound double double, and Niang going for 16 points. Montrezl Harrell was able to contain Nic Claxton in the paint, and the 76ers’ supporting cast showed just how well it could perform even without its stars.
They proved this wasn’t a fluke the next night against the Charlotte Hornets, where Melton had 20 and Milton went for 22 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals on 56.2% shooting from the field! Milton’s put up relatively modest numbers for his career, and hasn’t had a stretch like this in…well, forever. I went back through Milton’s game logs during his time in the NBA, and never has he had a stretch like this. Milton’s averaging 20 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game over the past four games on 56.1% shooting from the field and 43.8% shooting from three. The streak only continues, as yesterday, against the Orlando Magic, Milton dropped 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists while shooting 57% from three! This shows the potential Milton has as a starting point guard, and should make Philly very glad that their backup point guard is this reliable.
Melton is going through something similar, as on the season, he’s putting up career highs in nearly every statistical category. He’s thriving where Maxey normally does; and he’s only 24 years old! I get more excited about the future of this Philly team just thinking about it.
Trez has also been dominating in the starting center spot, just like I saw him do in DC. Against his old team, the Hornets, on the November 23rd matchup, Trez dropped 16 points and 7 rebounds, and yesterday, against the Magic, he had 14 points and 8 rebounds. In addition, he nailed two clutch free throws to put the game away, and seal the victory for Philadelphia.
There’s so much to be excited about with this Philly team, and this incredible bench performance makes me all the more confident in believing that there is a title contender to be made in Philadelphia!
What do you think of the Philadelphia 76ers? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!
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One thought on “Can We Talk About the Philadelphia 76ers’ Bench?”
I have always believed that in order to be successful, teams need to have strong bench strength. What I mean by that is they need players who can step in when a starter is injured. Obviously, the coach must ensure that he has a strong supporting cast, and his team doesn’t lose their mental acuity when a sub enters the game. It appears that the 76ers understand this and they have done an excellent job in developing and preparing their bench players to step up when needed.
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