It was a heavyweight fight in Philadelphia on Friday night as Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers hosted Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks for the second time this season. And these two superstars, plus a few others, came to play. Here’s what stood out:
- The Bucks were connecting from three in the first quarter, making 5 of 9 from the three-point line, helping set the tone early in the game. Antetokounmpo (11 points) and Bobby Portis (9) really had it going early.
- Tyrese Maxey didn’t get the memo that this nationally televised game was supposed to be about Embiid and Giannis. Maxey really had it going in the first half with 24 points on 9 of 12 shooting through two quarters, including three 3’s. Picking his spots to attack without being sped up by the defense of Jevon Carter and others. Also handing out five assists. Maxey had to leave late in the second quarter after stepping on Carter’s foot during a drive, he left the floor after the injury and did not return. Will have an MRI on Saturday.
- Double-digit turnovers (11) again for the 76ers in the first half. How many times does this have to be a part of Philadelphia’s storyline? Protect the basketball! They committed seven more in the second half. Milwaukee scored 15 points off the Sixers’ miscues.
- Antetokounmpo started the game defending former teammate P.J. Tucker. A similar strategy was implored last season with Matisse Thybulle in the starting lineup for the Sixers while playing in Milwaukee. Head coach Doc Rivers had to make a quick adjustment that night because Antetokounmpo simply ignored Thybulle while the Sixers were on offense. An obvious coaching decision for Bucks head man Mike Budenholzer to try again.
- Embiid with a terrible decision fouling Antetokounmpo in the open floor, deemed a flagrant 1. He was lucky it wasn’t deemed a flagrant 2 or an ejection.
- After the Maxey injury, the “others” really stepped up in a big way. De’Anthony Melton scored all 10 of his points in the second half, including the first five coming out of the locker room. Much needed to turn things around for the home team. Big point production from Georges Niang (17) and Shake Milton (15) when forced into extended action.
- Good minutes for Paul Reed against the Bucks frontline. Rivers used him at the power forward position with Embiid and Montrezl Harrell also on the floor. He played some good minutes (12:26 seconds) moving his feet and using his length against his opponent. Reed added six rebounds.
Considering the circumstances and the opponent, this was the best win of the season for the 76ers. A gutsy one. Next up will be the Minnesota Timberwolves (7-8) as they visit the Penn Medicine Court at The Center on Saturday night. Philadelphia will look to make it a season-best four-game win streak.