The Blue Coats took on the Raptors 905 on a Tuesday morning contest. Philly Front Office was there covering the game and got an exclusive behind the scenes look.
The Blue Coats finished up their routine practice and broke up into individual drills.
Two-way player Shake Milton was one of the Blue Coats players who did the most individual work. Milton did a plethora of drills, ranging from shooting to lay ups. He seemed to not really miss from anywhere on the court, a recurring theme throughout the night. Here is a video of Shake in shoot-around:
Milton’s hard work ended up showing in the actual game as he put together a massive stat-line of 33 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists.
All eyes weren’t just on Shake Milton, however. News of Haywood Highsmith becoming a Sixer broke the night before, and everyone was looking closely at the intriguing prospect. It was noticeable how Highsmith still put in the work before the game despite knowing he would be signing his first NBA contract in the way of a two-way deal that became official in between the two halves of the double-header.
After awhile of shoot around, fans began to pile in on the early morning. It wasn’t too long before it was game time.
First Half Action
The first quarter started with a bang as Shake Milton, the 6th best scorer in the NBA G League averaging 24.8 points per game, immediately began to take over. Milton had 11 points and only 1 turnover in the first quarter. With ex-teammate Demetrius Jackson signing in China, it was clear from the jump that Shake would be the primary play maker for the Blue Coats. Shake Milton finished the first quarter with 3 assists to just one turnover. At the end of the first quarter, the Blue Coats trailed the Raptors 36-35. Highsmith had 5 points while Cam Oliver added 4 points and 4 rebounds.
The second quarter started the way the first quarter had ended. The Blue Coats and Raptors 905 remained neck and neck for the duration of the period. Both teams struggled finding their rhythm on offense, as the score remained 53-48 for nearly 2 minutes. Rashad Vaughn, who was added to the team last week, provided a much-needed spark off the bench and replaced Cory Jefferson with 9 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter. Rashad finished the quarter with 10 points and 2 rebounds. The Raptors took a 61-59 lead into halftime and were led by Deng Adel who finished the half with 13 points.
Second Half Action
While the Blue Coats kept it close in the first half with the help of a few big shots from Rashad Vaughn, the second half was all about Shake Milton. The man simply got buckets all half, highlighted by his 13 third quarter points. Space Cam [Oliver] finished the quarter with 8 points and 2 boards. Similar to Vaughn in the 2nd, Norvel Pelle had an excellent 3rd quarter, finishing with 4 points and 4 rebounds as a spark off the bench. Norvel Pelle’s defensive dominance in the paint led the Blue Coats to a 94-86 lead over the Raptors 905 after 3.
In the fourth, the Blue Coats continued to put the pedal to the metal. Shake Milton topped off his productive game in the 4th quarter with 8 points and 2 assists. The Blue Coats broke the game open and ended up winning 119-108. It was their 3rd win in 4 games and they moved to 9-13 on the season. The star on offense was Shake Milton, whose 33 points came on 12-18 shooting from the field. The star on defense was Norvel Pelle, who consistently caused havoc in the paint for the Raptors. The difference in the game was rebounding, as the Blue Coats outrebounded the Raptors 52-40. Cam Oliver also contributed with 9 boards and a team high 2 blocks.
Tuesday afternoon’s game was monumental for playoff positioning for the Blue Coats. Coming into the affair, the Blue Coats were 10th while the Raptors 905 were 3rd in the Eastern Conference in playoff standings.
Three members of the Blue Coats were available postgame for comments: Head Coach Connor Johnson, Norvel Pelle, and Shake Milton. Coach Johnson talked about the teams strong second half, Shake Milton’s impact on the team, and the role of Norvel Pelle.
Shake talked about getting ready for the Sixers game that night, as a double-header was not something he had done “since AAU.” He also spoke about his big night and how he views himself going forward in regards to position on the floor.
Norvel Pelle spoke about his role on the team and the skills he has that can affect a game. He described his abilities as a rim-protector, screener, and roller and lob-catcher.
Ty, one of our contributors at PFO who had his first opportunity to cover a game, had this to say:
Overall, it was a really amazing day for the Blue Coats. It was very fun to cover such an exciting G-League team on the home floor of the NBA squad. I felt that the team and staff made it a great experience. I got the opportunity to see and speak to some people that could possibly make an impact on the Sixers organization in the future. I am very much looking forward to my next opportunity to cover this team and was beyond pleased with my media experience.
- This was the Blue Coats second game of the year playing in Philadelphia. The first matchup at The Center was on November 20th vs the Canton Charge. In that game, Shake Milton finished with 15 points and was a team high +29 on the court. Cam “Space Cam” Oliver also finished with 13 points and 16 boards off the bench.
- The Blue Coats’ first official home game at the 76ers Fieldhouse takes place on January 23rd in Wilmington.
- The Blue Coats are set up for their playoff run as 12 of the next 15 games will be at home. The Blue Coats take on the Lakeland Magic at The Center on Wednesday night at 7pm. You can watch the game on ESPN+ and Facebook. Haywood Highsmith is expected to play for the Blue Coats while Shake Milton will be in Washington with the Sixers.
Special thanks to all those from PFO who covered the game on Tuesday – and a special thanks to Ty, Chris, and Harrison for contributing to the recap.