Andrew Unterberger is a famous writer who invented the nickname 'Sauce Castillo' and is now writing for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez, as part of the 'If Not, Pick Will Convey As Two Second-Rounders' section of the site. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AUGetoffmygold and can also read him at Billboard.
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I’m not gonna do the Guess Which of the Two Screenshotted Basketball-Reference Lines Is Which Player thing, but trust me on this one: If you looked at the stats for Mike Muscala and Mike Scott this season, you might not be able to immediately tell which one was the cult hero and which one was the one chased out of town by the angry villagers (with INPWCATSR’s torch leading the way).
Scott did shoot significantly better from three (41% to to 34%), but otherwise, his numbers were worse across the board: His two-point FG was comically worse (52% to 38%), he averaged far fewer rebounds (6.9 to 5.7) and assists (2.1 to 1.2) per 36, and his defensive numbers were just altogether non-existent (14 combined steals and blocks in 27 games). Muscala made over four times as many free throws as Scott attempted. And Scott’s PER Of 7.7 was comfortably worst among Sixers rotation players of any stripe -- worse even than early-slumping, never-got-the-chance-to-snap-out Dario -- while Muscala’s 10.4 at least cleared the Mendoza Line of 10.0.
Yet despite all of that, ask 100 Sixers fans which guy they’d have rather had out there in the waning stretches of Game Four yesterday, and 99 of them would say Scott. (The 100th would be Adam Aaronson of LIberty Ballers, and he’d mostly be saying Muscala to troll me personally.)
I can’t explain my confidence in Mike Scott making that game-winning corner three last night, except to say that I was as sure he was going to make that one as I was that he was going to miss pretty much every other three he took last night. Even by his underwhelming regular-season standards, this has been a pretty subpar statistical series for our neck-tattooed anti-hero, who’s averaging a staggering 8.9 points per 36 minutes, on 36% FG and 29% 3-PT shooting, and two total free throws attempted. His on-off numbers are particularly :grimace: emoji, as the team is nine points per 100 possessions worse on both sides of the ball with him in game.
But damn if he wasn’t born to hit that go-ahead triple. All season, Scott has seemed to live for the big shots in the big games -- his two most scorching shooting performances came against the two best teams in the regular season, the Warriors and Bucks, albeit both in losses. And generally, the primary driving force of the dude’s existence seems to be the desire to prove his own anti-bitchness, as he’s taken great pains to remind audiences of at everygivenopportunity this season. A bitch wouldn’t have missed that three last night, and he certainly wouldn’t have hesitated to take it. Mike Scott did neither.
For all the greatness and heart on display for the Sixers in Saturday afternoon’s come-from-behind performance -- Joel Embiid’s dominant two-way performance, Tobias Harris’ heart-stopping clutch free throws, Butler’s fiery-eyed ejection, Redick’s make-’em-when-they-matter triple, Ben Simmons’ general continuing bossness -- it will go down as the Mike Scott game. Partly because that’s just what happens when you hit a game-winning, potentially series-clinching triple, but also just because we always knew there was going to be one of these. Mike Scott exists to infuriate and then to delight, and even if it had ended a four-game Nets sweep, he would’ve found a way to tattoo his imprint on the neck of this series. But this way makes more sense, and really couldn’t feel much truer to the experience of the anti-Mike Muscala.
I predicted three weeks ago that Mike Scott’s destiny would be to go down as the team’s Matt Stairs -- a veteran bench guy who comes off the pine to hit one moon shot into the friscalating dusklight, and goes down as an all-time clutch performer in Philly sports history no matter what else he does from here (likely not much). Last night almost certainly clinched that fate for the late-Process great, and if anyone’s still calling him a bitch at this point, they’re probably doing so from the Nets’ locker room, and not loudly enough to risk anyone actually hearing them. Hope you’re enjoying watching the playoffs from LeBron’s coach, Moose.