If you were told that the Philadelphia 76ers were going to make 19 threes on 42.2% shooting, you’d think it went a lot like Christmas. The difference this time around was the Milwaukee Bucks’ interior defense showed up in a huge way, allowing just 18 makes within the arc to grab another double-digit win, 112-101.
Just before the game on TNT, the network aired Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James selecting their All-Star teams. Unsurprisingly, Giannis picked Khris Middleton as his first reserve. But perhaps more relevant to this game, Giannis selected Joel Embiid as his first starter.
Any potential friendship or acquaintanceship between the two was thrown out the window in 48 minutes. Giannis has never made friends with the opposition in his time in the NBA and he certainly wasn’t going to start today.
Giannis put up his first 30+ point, 20+ rebound night in his career against the supposed “Giannis Stoppers” of the East. His 36/20/6 marks his fifth straight game of at least 30/15/5, the most since Wilt in 1965.
Embiid, on the other hand, was exposed as the inferior Eastern Conference force that he is. A 6-26 shooting night netted him 19 points with 11 rebounds and 6 assists. Giannis continually went downhill at Embiid with good succession while Embiid never really returned the favor.
Khris started slow, but he brought himself back to shoot 8-17 for 20 points and the bench appeared after a brief absence to combine for 30 points to the Sixers 23.
This was more than just a game simply because of the expectations of both of these teams this season. Most basketball enthusiasts chose these two to represent the East in the conference finals and so far only Milwaukee is holding up their end of the deal.
Philly has now lost their last three games, their fourth three-game losing streak of the season and sit in the sixth seed in the East. That’s 13.5 games of Milwaukee and four full games back of the fourth seed, which they desperately need to pursue considering it’s the cutoff for home court at least in the first round and their current road record sits at 9-19.
On the flip side, the Bucks remain the most feared team in the conference and possibly the league. Now improving to 44-7, they need to finish 26-5 to achieve the 70-win mark. They hold a 7-game lead over the second seed Toronto Raptors with the All-Star break just a week away.
The Bucks will travel to Orlando to take on the Magic on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m. CT.