Sixers - Bucks Recap: Philly Can't Keep it Close Against Red-Hot Milwaukee
Well, that wasn’t fun.
In a dreadful 124-117 loss, at their best the Sixers looked outmatched, and at their worst lifeless. Ben Simmon's impact was missed severely, especially early on defense. Hard to imagine Kris Middleton starting as he did with Simmons in his face. Philadelphia came out of the gates looking lifeless, as less than 8 minutes in they were down 31-13. Their offense was out of rhythm, and their defense was clueless as the Bucks couldn’t miss and Joel Embiid was guarding Brook Lopez. Continually a Milwaukee jersey was wide open, as Doc Rivers' team just didn't stay in position or closeout. But even when they did, the Bucks kept making shots. Even after Embiid got into a rhythm in the second, the Bucks continued their scorching three-point shooting. In the first 20 minutes of play, the Bucks:
Were 12-18 from three-point land
26-36 from the field overall
Scored 70 points
Had Brook Lopez Shooting 4-5 from deep
Kris Middleton shot 7-8, with 3 three-pointers
And PAT CONNAUGHTON looked viable
I can’t say I’m shocked a team coming off a close loss, missing their best defensive player, and integrating players back into the starting lineup was bad defensively, and that’s why I’m not too worried about this loss. After Saturday, the Sixers have an easy schedule, so if they start dropping some of those, I’ll be worried.
I liked what George Hill and Seth Curry did in the two-man game with Embiid on the floor. It generally created easy shots. Whether that was a jumper for Hill/Curry or a post-up for Embiid, I'm encouraged from what I saw on that end.
And Shake Milton had a great bounce-back game off the bench as well. He got some run-in garbage time, but overall, he scored an efficient 20 piece on 8/14 shooting, including 3 threes. The rookie, Tyrese Maxey, also continued to be a spark plug off the bench. His defense was suspect, but with the ball in his hands, he was impressive, knocking down two threes (!) early and getting an and-one on Giannis later in the game. Both Maxey and Milton have flaws, but nights like tonight should help get them comfortable for the...
Other than seeding and health, the main question for Philly is the members of the Playoff Rotation. Right now, I’m assuming that these 8 players are locks, health permitting:
That leaves these four fighting for one or two more spots:
Obviously, the roles come playoff time aren’t set in stone and there’s plenty of basketball ahead of us, but I have some guesses. I do think Shake Milton cracks the rotation, as long as he continues to play like he did tonight. And I’ve made fun of Cardio Mike, but if Mike Scott can put out some repeat performances of this game (4/6 overall, 3/5 from three) it’d be hard to deny him some minutes as a stretch 4 alongside Ben and Joel. So where does that leave Maxey and Furk? Well, Korkmaz likely only sees spot minutes when the offense needs a boost or guards are in foul trouble, and Maxey’s probably in the same boat. If the offense needs a shot in the arm from a ball-handler or some extra spacing, they’ll probably be the first ones up. And if a big man gets in foul trouble or is otherwise unavailable, those minutes will likely be absorbed by Anthony Tolliver, if he sticks around past his current 10-day contract.
Returning and Integrating
As I mentioned earlier, I did like what George Hill and Joel did in their minutes together, and Hill overall looked more comfortable getting the start in place of Ben Simmons (illness). He wasn’t out of this world, but his ability to do basic PG things raises the offense's floor come playoff time.
And as for Tobias, his performance was mixed in his first game back at times, he looked unpolished and like he could’ve benefitted from some extra rest. But his stretch in the third quarter where he looked like the All-Star he claimed to be was a promising sign going forward.
The Bottom Line
It’s incredibly hard to win a game without an All-Defensive caliber starting PG, with a 20 PPG scorer coming just back from injury against a team with a two-time reigning MVP that started the game on fire from three. If you want to take away anything from this loss, learn that this team wouldn’t give up, and the Blue Coats/Sixers Bench unit even kept it competitive against the Bucks starters. Now, all eyes turn to Saturday to a rematch with Milwaukee, as the Sixers hope to get Ben Simmons back to help seek revenge on Giannis and the rest of the Bucks roster.