The Philadelphia 76ers entered their matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday a bit shorthanded. They were down two starters in Danny Green and Tobias Harris and they needed others to step up in their absence.
Coach Doc Rivers turned to Furkan Korkmaz to start and the fourth-year guard out of Turkey did not disappoint. He had 20 points while shooting 7-for-13 from the floor and he had a career-high five steals in a 117-93 win over the Thunder on the road.
It was a good performance for Korkmaz and his offensive game was important in helping Philadelphia come away with a win.
“Furk made some shots, which was great,” said Rivers. “Moving Ben (Simmons) to the 4, I thought created some matchups for us. I thought that’s what really got Furk open because they’re trying to match a 4 on Furk a lot and they lost him in transition. It was a good win for us. A good professional win. We came in, these guys are down on guys, they’re playing a bunch of young guys, We needed to take care of our business and we did that.”
What was most impressive was the fact that Korkmaz came up with the five steals. He is not known as a guy who plays well on the defensive end of the floor, but as a starter in this one, he had to change up his attitude and his priorities a bit.
“I was trying to be aggressive on the defensive side,” he explained. “Especially at the beginning of the game, when you are a starter, you’re trying to set a tone. I got a couple of steals and I got my confidence back.”
A good defensive effort can lead to better offense on most nights and that rang true for Korkmaz on Saturday. On a couple of those steals, he was able to get out in transition for easy buckets which is essential for him. He is mainly an offensive contributor and when he can get a couple of easy buckets, that changes everything for him on that end.
“It motivates me a lot,” he finished. “Sometimes when I get in the game, I’m trying to get into the game with the offense, but Doc says every time, we got to start with the defense. When you get a steal, when you good defense, that affects your offense too. That also motivates me.”
Korkmaz will continue to have his game grow a bit more as he gains more confidence on that end of the floor. If he can become more consistent with his defensive effort and the production, that will be a huge plus for the Sixers come playoff time.