The Philadelphia 76ers meet the Milwaukee Bucks in a showdown on Christmas Day. The NBA determines the marquee matchups in the summer, and this is the hotly anticipated meeting of the two favorites to represent the East in the NBA Finals. The Sixers at 22-10 are considered somewhat of an under-performer early in this season. The Bucks however have stormed into the season 27-4 and are looking like a juggernaut. The Bucks are led by 6’11” Giannis Antetokounmpo with a roster tailor made for his immense talents.
The Sixers, it could be argued, are purpose built to stop exactly this team. The team invested heavily in getting bigger, longer, and more physical defensively. In an era where the NBA has trended towards small ball, the Sixers and Bucks represent two teams that have “bucked” the trend.
Comparing the Teams
Both led by massive size advantages at the lead ball handler position, Philadelphia and Milwaukee share some DNA in that regard. Milwaukee prefers to play a 5 out offense, versus the flow offense that the Sixers prefer. The Sixers have a down low anchor point in Joel Embiid which creates a natural counterpoint to the Bucks center Brook Lopez, who prefers to space the floor to remove rim protectors and allow for driving lanes for Giannis.
The Bucks are second in the league in 3 point attempts, but hitting at just a league average rate. The offense is ultra geared towards spacing and analytics. The “5 Out” offense is super simple. The concept is having three point shooters in the corners, on the wings above the break, and one at the top of the key. The offense requires credible threats at all positions, and you really cannot hide anyone offensively. The key to everything is the ability to beat a defender off the dribble and force help to protect the rim. And that all starts with the reigning NBA MVP.