Although Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers has shown tons of confidence in his bench throughout the playoffs this year, they've been far from perfect. In fact, at times, the Sixers' bench unit has flat-out struggled.
Fortunately for them, they've found sparks off the bench over the last two matchups. In Game 2 against the Atlanta Hawks, Shake Milton shocked Atlanta as he came off the bench and collected 14 points in crunch time after picking up just 38 seconds of playing time in the previous matchup.
When Game 3 rolled around, the Turkish sharpshooter Furkan Korkmaz became the next member of the bench rotation to step up for the Sixers. As Philly's veteran forward Danny Green went down with a calf injury, the team looked to get a spark from Korkmaz.
Going into Game 3 against the Hawks, Korkmaz has been struggling with his shot as he was shooting 33-percent from beyond the arc and averaging five points in the Sixers' first seven postseason games.
In the first quarter alone on Friday, Korkmaz hit on both of his three-point attempts and collected 11 points for Philly, helping them get off to a 28-20 start over Atlanta. While his first-quarter performance was certainly his best on Friday night, Korkmaz had a stellar outing as he finished with 14 points, knocking down 50-percent of his three-point shots.
“He was huge,” said Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid. “We got that early lead because of him coming on the court and carrying the bench. He was huge, and even in the second half, every time they seemed to make a run, he hit a big shot. Whether it was a three or whether it was a layup, he was huge for us.”
Sixers guard Ben Simmons has been a big supporter of Korkmaz's over the last couple of years. Since Simmons' game tends to favor three-point shooters, Korkmaz and the 24-year-old All-Star have found ways to produce quality minutes together this season, and we saw that again on Friday night.
“He’s great,” Simmons said after the game. “He’s a weapon. He’s had a lot of great moments wearing a Sixers jersey, and I love playing with him. Offensively, he’s great. Defensively, he’s stepped up, too. He is another guy who’s taking on the challenge of guarding his man.”
With Danny Green expected to miss extended time, Korkmaz is likely to pick up additional minutes moving forward. As long as he can produce as he did during Game 3, the Sixers could be just fine for the remainder of the series.