"I Told Him to Get Ready" | Embiid Dominates, Milton Steps Up in 76ers' Game 2 Win
It was Joel Embiid Bobblehead Night.
No, not Tuesday night, but in November 2018.
The Delaware Blue Coats, the 76ers’ NBA G League affiliate, hosted the Canton Charge in Philadelphia at The Center. The momentous occasion included a giveaway for the first 10,000 fans: a free, limited-edition Joel Embiid bobblehead.
Among those in attendance was Embiid himself, who sat courtside.
Embiid looked on as a then-rookie, two-way contract player scored 15 points to help lead the Blue Coats to victory.
“It felt good,” Shake Milton said in a walkoff interview following the 2018 contest. “The fans are really crazy. It [was] kind of the same energy [as] when the Sixers play, so you kind of got a feel for what it would be like. And we were lucky enough to get the win.”
In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday, Milton scored 14 points in 14 minutes to help lift the 76ers over the Atlanta Hawks in the very same building. He received a standing ovation.
His teammate Embiid went for a playoff career-high 40 points.
“For some reason, I felt like he was going to be needed,” said Embiid. “So before the game I told him to get ready. I love all these guys and he’s one of them. I believe in all of them. I want to win it all and I’m going to need them to do so.
“I’m extremely happy for him.”
Milton played just 38 seconds in Game 1 of the series. His 14:15 of action on Tuesday surpassed his cumulative playing time across the final two games of the previous series against Washington.
Like Embiid, Doc Rivers told Milton to stay ready as well.
“I talked to Shake [Tuesday],” Rivers said. “I said, 'This is a long run, man. If we do this right, then everyone’s going to get a shot. And stay ready.'
Rivers said Milton played one-on-one at 10 o’clock Monday night, the eve of Game 2.
"He shot extra. I mean he prepared himself and he believed that he would get another shot, and he got it. And he gave us a huge lift. I’m very happy for him.”
Milton scored the Sixers’ first bench points of the game at the 2:19 mark of the third quarter. He then drained a 36-footer from the left wing at the buzzer that brought the house down.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) June 9, 2021
Here’s the mic’d up version of Embiid supporting Shake & Dwight: pic.twitter.com/7EXNSBhddM
— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) June 9, 2021
Tobias Harris said he was both happy and proud at the same time.
“There’s a lot of guys on this team that work hard, but he’s steadily in the gym and waiting for that moment and opportunity,” said Harris of Milton. “Here it came and he took advantage of it. And we needed it more than ever.”
Embiid played 35 minutes and reached the 40-point mark on the back of 13-for-25 shooting from the field and 12-for-16 from the free-throw line. He added 13 rebounds in a dominant performance that began shortly after word came out that Denver’s Nikola Jokić was the recipient of the 2020-21 KIA NBA Most Valuable Player Award.
“I’m focused on winning the championship,” Embiid said. “Like I’ve been saying all season, we’ve got a good chance. 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.”
And the fans Milton spoke about on Embiid Bobblehead Night three years ago?
They’re still bringing the energy every step of the way.
“I have a lot of love for the Philly fans,” Embiid said. “Playing at home -- there is nothing like it. The way they get loud, the love that they show.”
Friday’s Game 3 between the 76ers and Hawks is a 7:30 p.m. start in Atlanta.