After turnovers and head-scratching mistakes, the Philadelphia 76ers (35-23) defeated the Milwaukee Bucks (36-24) 123-120 in a thriller! Here are the most impactful takeaways from this matchup:
Tobias Harris headlined Philadelphia’s offense early in the first quarter. The Philadelphia forward used his dribble penetration to carve through Milwaukee’s defense to score at the rim in transition and early offense. Later, Harris continued to apply pressure in the restricted area as well as creating his shot in the mid-range. Most importantly, Tobias drained a pull-up mid-range jumper over Wesley Matthews that resulted in an and-one to give Philly the lead in the fourth quarter. All in all, Harris contributed 19 points and 8 rebounds on 45.0 effective field-goal percentage.
Joel Embiid’s Dominance
Joel Embiid anchored Philadelphia’s offense despite great defensive schemes from the Milwaukee Bucks. Throughout the first half, the Bucks constantly doubled and even triple teamed the MVP candidate. On top of this, Milwaukee played variations of zone defense such as 2-3 and 3-2 sets. The third-seeded Bucks had a good amount of success in doing this as it forced Embiid to take contested shots. Also, Joel tried to create shots for others in response to Milwaukee’s defense. But players such as Danny Green and Tobias Harris were unable to take advantage of this. Overall, Philadelphia struggled shooting the ball in the first half, besides a handful of players.
Nonetheless, Embiid gave the Bucks, specifically Bobby Portis hell throughout the game.
The all-star big man used his physicality, footwork, and dribble penetration to put pressure on Milwaukee’s interior defense which resulted in points and drawn fouls. Also, Embiid shot very well from beyond the arc tonight as he was 3-4 from three. The biggest takeaway from Joel’s masterclass was how he took over the game in the third quarter.
For some reason, Milwaukee reverted from their zone defense and Bobby Portis played man defense against Embiid. This was a mistake. The big fella showcased his offensive versatility against fan favorite Portis. Further, JoJo was lethal in the mid-range as he netted turnaround jumpers, baseline shots, fadeaways, and let’s not forget that Harden-type step-back three. Also, because of the one-on-one coverage, Joel was able to finesse his way to the hoop for an easy two or draw a foul. Embiid went 11-14 from the line where he was met with odd “you’re not Giannis” chants from Bucks fans. In total, Joel dropped 42 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists on 77.3 true-shooting.
Tyrese Maxey’s 2nd Quarter
Tyrese Maxey erupted in the second quarter, which gave Philadelphia momentum and their first significant lead. After a rough first period where he had 2 points on 2-2 shooting from the line, Maxey was near unstoppable. The rising star scored in a multitude of ways. Mainly, Tyrese used his signature dribble penetration to defuse Milwaukee’s pressuring zone and score in the paint. Additionally, Maxey scored very well in transition using his quickness and creativeness to finish at the basket.
What’re more, the two-man game between Joel Embiid and the guard himself shined to close out the first half. Maxey benefitted from Joel’s off-ball drag screen and flare screen and cashed in on a pair of layups. To boot, Tyrese’s shot creation was on display as he knocked down a pull-up three and an elbow jumper. However, his success was partly due to James Harden’s coaching from the sideline! In the second period, Maxey tallied 14 points and 4 assists on 4-6 shooting from the field.
Furk and Niang’s Shooting
Furkan Korkmaz’s shooting was crucial to Philadelphia’s victory tonight. He served as a reliable outlet scorer at the corner. His ability to catch and shoot the three rewarded him with 13 points on 3-4 perimeter shooting. This was evident in the beginning of the second half where Korkmaz drained two triples off of passes from Niang and Harris in response to Mikwaukee’s over-helping defense. Similarly, Georges Niang had an all-around incredible performance and he was a huge factor in this game.
First off, he was on fire from beyond the arc as he shot 5-10 from long-range. To support, Embiid dished it to Niang on the perimeter in response to Milwaukee’s double-teams and the forward came through. Noticeably, Niang splashed a critical three that cut Milwaukee’s lead to one and caused a momentum shift. Also, Georges was effective in low-post action. Defensively, Niang surprisingly played solid physical one-on-one defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo and he contested his shots very well. Georges finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds on 70.8 effective field-goal percentage.