Mike Scott Reminds Sixers What He’s Capable Of
When Mike Scott signed his two-year deal to return to the Sixers in the summer of 2019, he told a story about his time in L.A.
Known as a shooter, Scott was asked by his then coach, “What else can you do when your shot isn’t falling?” Scott took that message to heart and uses it to fuel him now.
That coach was of course Doc Rivers, who decided to give the 32-year-old forward the start in place of the injured Tobias Harris in a 130-114 drubbing of the Pacers Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
It’s been an up and down journey for Scott since he signed that deal, but he rewarded Rivers for his decision against Indiana. Not only was Scott’s shot falling (11 points, 3 of 3 from three, 4 of 4 overall), but he showed what else he can do with four rebounds, four steals, and plenty of veteran savvy on both ends.
“You can see the difference,” Rivers said postgame. “Mike in the Clipper days, if his shot wasn’t falling, he kind of just stopped doing anything. Now, tonight, rebounding, loose balls, running the floor.
“People are going to take away what you do best every once in a while. You have to do something else to help the team. And Mike does that every night.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Scott was a critical piece for the Sixers.
Coming over from the Clippers in the deal that landed the Sixers Harris and his charismatic best friend Boban Marjanovic, Scott was sort of an afterthought. He endeared himself quickly to Sixers fans with his physicality, sharp tongue and emoji tattoos. His reputation for sticking up for his teammates helped create “The Hive.”
He also endeared himself to Brett Brown and his teammates, shooting over 40 percent from three for the rest of the season and being one of the few bench pieces that could be relied on in the postseason. Scott even played through plantar fasciitis as the Sixers were trying to claw their way to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Since Scott signed his deal that summer, it’s been a tough go. He fell out of the rotation for most of last season and fought through injury. This season, he’s had trouble getting going with injuries to both knees.
While Daryl Morey and company will certainly make moves ahead of the March 25 trade deadline, a performance like this one makes you wonder how much Scott could help.
Especially with how desperately the Sixers could use a boost from their bench.
“I didn’t think my role changed,” Scott said. “Still do the little things, make shots, play defense, be active. My role doesn’t change whether I’m starting or coming off the bench, so it’s pretty easy for me.”
While there is certainly no replacing the All-Star caliber play of Harris, who is nursing a right knee contusion and could be available Wednesday against Utah, Scott didn’t need to – nor did he try. Monday’s game was the perfect example of the type of role he can play.
The shot-making is not only a plus but much-needed. On top of that, Scott made several sneaky – and not-so-sneaky – good plays. He was excellent with help defense throughout the night, making it difficult for the Pacers to get shots at the rim. He also showed off his versatility on that end, defending 6-foot-11 Myles Turner to start and former Sixer T.J. McConnell, who stands at 6-foot-1, later on.
One of Scott’s four steals came on the ultimate hustle play. He battled for an offensive rebound that All-Star Domantas Sabonis grabbed. Scott didn’t give up on the play, stripping Sabonis of the ball and converting an easy layup.
These are the plays that will keep Rivers’ confidence in him – and Scott’s minutes – up.
“Just embracing the little things,” Scott said. “Just making hustle plays, steals, boxing out – just doing the little things this team needs. When you’re not shooting the ball well, when you’re not getting your shots, just bring something else to the table.”
It sounds so simple, but it could help Scott become an important piece for the Sixers once again.