The 76ers handed the Spurs their first loss in the bubble thanks to Shake Milton.
Fans of the Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns watched in abject horror Monday night as the San Antonio Spurs rallied from what was once a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to go up by four with 1:41 to play.
Not only were the Sixers about to implode against another inferior team, but they were about to do so to the detriment of every fringe playoff team in the Western Conference that needed those pesky Spurs to start losing after their surprising 2-0 start in these seeding games.
Luckily for the Sixers and all five of those nervous Western squads, Shake Milton had it covered:
Philly faced a two-point deficit with 10.8 seconds left after Derrick White split a pair of free throws, giving the Sixers one last chance to tie or take the lead. While everyone expected Joel Embiid to get the ball since Ben Simmons had already fouled out, Milton didn’t hesitate when he received the rock from Al Horford on the wing.
Embiid was posting up, but with defenders sagging to prepare for the double-team, Milton had just enough light to let one fly. He drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer, giving the Sixers a 131-130 advantage with 7.2 seconds left.
San Antonio got a decent look near the basket on the next possession, but Jakob Poeltl’s layup was highly contested and the rebound wound up going out of bounds off the Spurs. Embiid made one of two free throws on the ensuing inbounds play, giving Philly a big-time 132-130 victory.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Sixers had just enough in the tank on Monday to hand the Spurs their first loss in the NBA bubble. Joel Embiid led the way with 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Tobias Harris chipped in 25 points and Milton finished his night with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Despite the best efforts of DeMar DeRozan (30 points) and the Ghost of Rudy Gay (24 points off the bench), the Spurs’ comeback attempt fell just short thanks to a clutch 3 from the Sixers’ second-year wing.