Richard Hamilton played just 26 minutes in game one, but he made pretty efficient use of his time. Rip scored 19 points on seven shots, which is nearly three points a shot as Sixers coach Doug Collins noted.
"He's got that championship experience. He knows where to get on the floor. You can give Rip that."
With Derrick Rose out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, Hamilton will have to add about 20 more minutes to his playing time from here on out, going from being a complimentary player to a main attraction. And he can do it--Rip is a veteran of the postseason. Before joining the Bulls, the former Piston played in 120 playoff games, averaging 20.6 points per game. Hamilton has said his experience can help the team in different situations. This is the most crucial of situations now that the reigning MVP is out of commission.
Hamilton is battle tested, and despite his own struggle with injuries this season, he will have to prove durable for the duration of the postseason, which includes increased playing time.
"I can play a lot longer, but Thibs does a great job of managing everybody's minutes," said Hamilton regarding his 26 minutes. "The game got away a little bit in the fourth quarter. I think we were up around 14 so there was no need for me to be playing."
Now there is every reason to be playing.
Derrick Rose's absence presents a huge void that no one player can fill, but Hamilton will have to try. The guard certainly picked up the slack in the early going of game. When Rose was struggling with his shot, going 1-for-7 from the field, Rip dropped in 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting. He's the only other player besides Rose who can create on offense and dish out the assists. Rip's passing game is equally as valuable as his ability to score.
Yes, CJ Watson will take over for Rose as the backup point guard, but it will be Rip Hamilton who will have to fill No. 1's shoes.