Sixers praise Ricky Council IV after surprising road win over Cavaliers

The Philadelphia 76ers were in a tough situation on the road taking on the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night. Missing four starters and a key bench piece, the Sixers were attempting to take down a Cavaliers team that had won 17 of their last 18 games.

Despite the obvious challenges, the Sixers pulled out a surprising 123-121 win. Philadelphia has won two in a row and is now 6-13 on the season without Joel Embiid.

Rookie Ricky Council IV once again played a key role in the victory. He had eight points and five rebounds off the bench and after Donovan Mitchell had hit a triple for the Cavs to cut the lead to 120-119 with 14 seconds left, Council IV stepped to the line and knocked down two clutch free throws to extend Philadelphia’s lead to three.

This is the second consecutive game where Council IV has played a huge role in a win and coach Nick Nurse, who has a ton of G League experience as a coach, has been impressed with what he’s seen from his undrafted rookie.

“A couple things have to usually happen is you got to figure out can these guys play an NBA role? What’s their NBA skill versus what they’re doing down there? And Ricky is an incredible athlete who plays really hard,” Nurse told reporters. “He uses that to be a defender and rebounder first and foremost, right? And that’s a pretty good start.”

Along with his physical gifts and basketball IQ, Council IV has a ton of confidence in himself. The mental toughness to step to the line and knock down two free throws in that situation is a huge moment for him.

“That’s a pretty good start, and then he’ll battle on the offensive glass and get a bucket or two and how about that situation for him to step up and knock down two free throws?” Nurse added. “In that situation. A lot of courage, a lot of confidence in himself there.”

Another really important aspect for the rookie out of Arkansas is his work ethic. He’s always going 100% and Nurse loves that about his youngster. The Sixers needed all of that against the Cavaliers on Monday.

“I said a lot about him, but he does everything hard every day,” Nurse finished. “Every walkthrough, every shootaround, every practice, everything. He’s focused and ready to go and it’s good to see him reap some rewards from that.”

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire