MILWAUKEE-The seventh-seeded Milwaukee Bucks came into this Sunday night battle with a four-game losing streak, while the Philadelphia 76ers came in playing some of their best basketball of the season. Early on it looked like this trend would continue, but in one of the wildest games of the season, Milwaukee clawed back twice from at least 19 points down to get the 118-110 comeback victory at home.
Contrary to most Milwaukee home games, there was a dominant, large contingent of Sixers fans holding serve in nearly three full sections of the Bradley Center, in an attempt to “enact revenge” for Malcolm Brogdon winning the Rookie of the Year award last season over Philadelphia’s star Joel Embiid. Even before tip off, the fans from Philly would chant “TRUST THE PROCESS,” and Milwaukee’s Clutch Crew would respond, “CAN’T STOP GIANNIS,” setting the stage for what would be an intense battle of young stars.
Under two minutes into the game, the Sixers looked ready to play, and the Bucks looked like they were only going to continue their losing skid, trailing 10-0, forcing coach Joe Prunty to call a timeout, and allowing Embiid to get the Philly crowd even louder across the arena. After the timeout, Milwaukee got on the board, but couldn’t stop the bleeding. With four minutes still remaining in the first, the Sixers led 33-14, and Dario Saric already had 15 points.
After one quarter of play, Milwaukee trailed 43-31.
The second quarter was as even as you can get score-wise, with both teams scoring 29 points apiece. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in the quarter along with some great minutes from 40-year-old Jason Terry, while Sixers rookie Ben Simmons put on a passing clinic, finishing with a +20 at the half and 11 assists.
Milwaukee started to slow down Saric, but couldn’t quite gain much traction on the scoreboard, and still trailed 72-60 at the break.
The third quarter, though, was the major turning point in the game, and one of the best quarters of the Bucks’ season thus far. Offensively, the team scored 33 points and shot well over 50%, and defensively, Milwaukee held the young Sixers to just 14 points in 12 minutes, ending the quarter on a ridiculous 21-0 run.
The highlight of the quarter, by no surprise, was provided by The Greek Freak. After finishing a fast break, getting fouled and cutting the Bucks’ deficit to just one at that point, Giannis gave his patented big smile, went up to the Sixers’ bench, and started talking to and messing with former teammate Jerryd Bayless, which absolutely made the BMO crowd roar.
Heading into the final quarter, Milwaukee now led the game 93-86.
Although Philadelphia would cut their deficit down to four at 102-98, the Bucks were just too strong and too tough defensively at that point, carrying the home team to victory, 118-110.
Milwaukee became the first team to come back from two 19+ point deficits in the same game since the Oklahoma City Thunder did it back in 2015, three years ago to the day, on March 4th, ironically also against Philadelphia.
Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ hero with 35 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, stressed the importance of the comeback victory after the game. “It means a lot. It was a big win. We came into today’s game with the mentality that we had to win no matter what. We kept chasing, and we came back twice.”
With the win, Milwaukee moved just a half-game back out of sixth place behind Philadelphia, and looks to improve Monday night in Indiana against the Pacers.
But for now, at least in Milwaukee’s eyes, “The Process” is delayed.