On Thursday night the Sixers took care of business yet again at home in a 115-106 victory against the New York Knicks. Here are my takeaways from the game:
Tobias Harris: Tobias was the leading candidate to take over the offensive load when Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid went down. He was the go to option offensively for the magic and the clippers when he played there, so he is no stranger to being the top option on an undermanned team. He certainly did not disappoint in his first look at his new temporary role. Tobias finished with an efficient 32 points on 14-21 shooting and 3-6 from deep, while adding 7 boards and 7 assists. If the sixers want to stay afloat in the playoff race in their stars’ absences, they’ll need similar production from him throughout the rest of the year.
Shake Milton: The second year guard drafted in the second round out of SMU continues to look like a draft steal for the Sixers. After watching from the bench for much of the season, Shake has made the most of his opportunities and surprisingly has been one of the sixers most consistent players, and tonight he made another strong case to be in the sixers rotation, playing solid defense throughout, scoring 19 points on 5-5(!) shooting from deep, with only 1 turnover. It would be huge for this team if he can keep playing like this.
Al Horford: We have to give credit where credit is due. Despite being boo’d by the crowd for yet another missed wide open layup, Al Horford played pretty well overall. Like him or not, this is still one of the reasons Horford is on the team, to play when Embiid is unavailable. Whether it comes in normal backup center minutes when Embiid is resting to help the bench unit, or play as the starting center when Embiid is inactive, that is where Al helps this team the most.
The win column: it may not have been a very convincing win, but any win we can get without Embiid or Simmons we will take. A loss here would have sent the fan base over the edge, and they took care of business when they needed to.
Glenn Robinson: Both Glenn Robinson and Alec Burks were putting up seemingly empty stats on a bad team before they got traded to the Sixers. When the Sixers traded for them, we always knew there was the possibility that when the stakes were raised and the roles were lessened that either of these guys could be worse than advertised. For Glenn Robinson, that certainly has been the case thus far. There is obviously plenty of time for Robinson to prove his worth, but outside of being able to run in transition and occasionally catching his defender sleeping with a backdoor cut, Robinson has been mostly useless offensively. He had another dud tonight, keeping this 0% from three streak alive and scoring only 4 points on 6 shots in his 21 minutes in the starting role. I’m not entirely sure why he’s starting either, especially right after publicly complaining about his role with the team after being here for only a couple of weeks.
Alec Burks: Unlike Robinson, I think Burks overall has been a solid role player for the Sixers. I’ve actually wanted him to start since he got here, although I’m not opposed to riding the hot hand with Shake instead. Tonight, however, he was pretty bad. I didn’t hate the looks he was getting, but he really had an off night, shooting only 2-10 on the night.
Josh richardson- Josh finally started hitting late in the 3rd quarter, but for most of the night couldn’t hit a jumper to save his life. He didn’t kill the team considering he only had 13 attempts, but he really has to step up and score more in the absence of Ben and Joel.
The margin of victory: I know they are playing without their two franchise players, but this supporting cast should still be able to beat this Knicks team at home with ease. If the Sixers want to consider themselves contenders, they can’t look like one of the worst teams in the league when they’re down a couple players. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they just have to get used to playing without Ben and Joel, but that trend cannot continue or else they will get handled by other playoff teams.