By Dylan MacKinnon
The Sixers had a double-digit lead at one point. But in the end, the Sixers couldn’t hold on. A run to start the 4th quarter gave the Bucks the lead. And even when Joel Embiid and James Harden came back in, they couldn’t quite pull it out. It came down to the final seconds, but the Bucks took the 2pt win.
In the battle of MVP candidates, Giannis Antetokounmpo won the first round. In the first quarter, he scored 10 pts on 5-7 shooting. Compare that to Embiid who scored 2pts and shot 1 for 6. It was mostly Bucks in general for the first quarter, and they lead by as much as 11. But a late run, capped off by a Harden 3pter, cut it to just a 3pt game by the end of the quarter. Harden’s 12 pts led the game after the first frame.
The Sixers kept that momentum going into the second quarter. Georges Niang, Danny Green Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris all hit 3’s. % minutes into the quarter, they had taken the lead after the Harris 3, and never gave it back before halftime. Embiid scored 11 in the quarter and finished the half with 13pts and 5 assists. Harden led the Sixers with 16pts and 5asts. By the end of the quarter, they had flipped that 11pt deficit into a 10pt lead.
Despite Antetokounmpo’s best efforts, the Sixers held onto an 8pt lead through the 3rd quarter. he scored 9 pts in the final 2 minutes of the quarter. But Hardens perfect foul shooting, and finding Danny Green for a 3, prevented that Giannis run from eating into the lead too much. After 3 quarters it was an 89-81 Sixers lead. Harden led all scorers with 29, but Antetokounmpo was just behind him with 28.
But the Sixers couldn’t hold on. The Bucks started to eat into the lead into the 4th quarter. With no Embiid or Harden on the court, the Bucks had their way. Two and half minutes into the frame and the lead was down to just 2 pts. It even forced Embiid to come back into the game earlier than he usually would because Antetokounmpo was killing the Sixers. And it only took another minute for the Bucks to then take the lead.
The Bucks would never give the lead up. The run was stopped with Embiid and Harden back onto the floor. An Embiid 3pter cut the lead to just one. The Sixers got a stop and had a chance to tie or take the lead. But a uneven final play lead to a Embiid getting blocked. It was initially called a goaltending. But upon further review it was deemed a clean block. That led to a jump ball. And with just 1 second on the clock, Sixers had no chance to get a shot off.
Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 40. Harden led the Sixers with 32, and Embiid had 29. Maxey disappointed tonight with just 7pts, while Harris had a nice game with 22pts despite going 2-8 from 3.
So that was all she wrote. The Sixers couldn’t hold on, and fell to the Bucks. They fall to 46-29. They are now a full game behind the Bucks, and find themselves in the 4 seed. The Celtics have a .5 game lead in the 3 seed, and the Heat a 1.5 game lead for the top seed. The Sixers get a night off, before heading out to Detroit to face the Pistons. They have 7 games left before the playoffs. Two games vs the Pistons, two vs the Pacers, and also one game each vs the Cavs, the Hornets, and the Raptors.