After the atrocious loss to the Celtics, the Sixers have a bounce back win against the Bucks. What is the best way to feel better after getting slapped around by your division rivals? The Philadelphia 76ers winning against the defending champs is a good start.
Yet another performance that bolstered Embiid’s MVP case, the Sixers improved to 35-23. It was a tight game to the last second. Khris Middleton missed a three-pointer at the final buzzer that would’ve sent the game to overtime. Embiid had 42 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo posted 32 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists.
James Harden will continue rehabilitation on his left hamstring through the All-Star break. He may have not been on the court but his presence was felt.
The MiniVan Gets Words of Wisdom
Georges Niang replaced Danny Green in the starting lineup. Niang drew the short straw and got the job of guarding Antetokounmpo. This was Niang’s first start since December 3rd. He was far from the only defender the Sixers used on the two-time MVP; Danny Green and Embiid were among the others. As usual, the game plan involved double-teaming Antetokounmpo when possible, limiting his open-floor chances, and living with his jumpers.
Georges Niang said he drove into the paint and lost the ball early in the game. After that, James Harden yelled at him and said “put up 10 3s. That’s what you do.” Niang ended up taking 10 triples and he made 5 of them. Niang scored 18 points, made 5 of 10 three-point tries, and took a fourth-quarter charge on Antetokounmpo.
Maxey Learning From Harden
The Sixers missed 13 of their first 17 three-point shots, fell behind 53-41 on a Bobby Portis fast-break layup, and appeared to be repeating what happened against the Celtics. Tyrese Maxey helped the Sixers turn the tides. An impressive 14-2 Sixers run in which he made a three, an and-one layup, and a pull-up jumper to tie the game at 55-all. This was after sharing some sideline advice with James Harden.
Between working with Embiid and now Harden the sky is the limit for the 21-year-old. Maxey’s openness to coaching and criticism has been a major reason for his early career success. His shots didn’t drop the remainder of the evening. He committed zero of the Sixers’ 12 turnovers in his 40 minutes and hit two important free throws to extend the team’s lead to 123-118 with 8.4 seconds left.
The stars of the game were of course Antetokounmpo and Embiid. Antetokounmpo was powerful and perpetually threatening in the fourth quarter. He also knocked down two long-range shots, the second of which put the Bucks up 116-112. If Embiid does become the first Sixers MVP winner since Allen Iverson, the final few minutes of this game will be a large reason. He sunk a pretty one-legged jumper and made three foul shots in an 8-0 run. Embiid defendedAntetokounmpo causing the Greek Freak to turn the ball over.
The Sixers have significant flaws even after trading for Harden, but Embiid’s superstardom means that almost anything seems possible once they return from the break. Hopefully, the veteran buyout market can seal some cracks. Watching this bounce back win against the Bucks should make all fans smile.
Al is one of the two co-creators of Edge of Philly Sports. Al started radio and podcasting in 2012 and covering sports in 2015. A lifelong Philly sports fan since watching the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers with his grandfathers at age 7. Al always looks at the other side of the hot topics and gives his different outlook on those topics. Web and Graphic Design.