Zhaire Smith scores career-high 11 points in first career start

Philadelphia 76ers rookie Zhaire Smith made his first career start against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, and he showed he has a chance to be part of the Sixers’ rotation in the playoffs.

Smith scored a career-high 11 points in 30 minutes of play during the Sixers’ 122-99 loss against the Heat, and he shot 50 percent from the field.

Smith has played five games so far, and he has shown his ability to play off the ball and score inside. Smith is more of a shooting guard than a small forward, and he adds wing depth to the Sixers’ bench.

He has missed the majority of the regular season because he suffered a fractured left foot during a developmental camp at the end of last summer.

Along with that, Smith also had thoracoscopy surgery earlier in the season because of an allergic reaction he had to a food product.

James Ennis III is the Sixers’ primary wing off the bench, but he suffered a right quad injury last Wednesday in a game against the Atlanta Hawks. The team announced last week that Ennis is going to be re-evaluated in two weeks.

With Ennis being out to begin the playoffs, Smith could be a wing the Sixers use off the bench. Ennis has averaged 5.3 points per game in 18 games for the Sixers, with one of his best performances coming against the Charlotte Hornets on March 19. He scored 14 points off the bench during that game, and he was the only bench player on the Sixers to score.

Though Smith is a rookie, he has more opportunities around the corner, and with his ability to play off the ball, he can be an important piece for the Sixers in the first round of the playoffs and potentially beyond.

The Sixers have one more game left in the regular season, and they’ll play the Chicago Bulls at home Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST.

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