The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Sixers in Philly tonight, as they rode a 10-0 run down the stretch to the victory.
This was a clash of two of the most otherworldly stars in the the NBA, as the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo put up 45 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists, while the Sixers’ Joel Embiid achieved his second career triple-double with 34 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists.
Joel was the only Sixers starter without a negative plus-minus, and while the numbers almost certainly won’t bear it out, he provided far and away the most resistance guarding the Greek Freak among those in Sixers grey.
Tonight’s game began on the heels of news that James Ennis III will be shelved for two weeks (and then reevaluated) due to his bothersome quad injury. In his stead, Shake Milton and Zhaire Smith saw extended run off the Sixers’ bench. The team was also missing Jimmy Butler (back) tonight, but you’d think the Sixers are best served going with Smith off the bench from here on out. Milton’s two-way contract makes him ineligible to compete with the Sixers in the playoffs, unless the Sixers convert his deal, which seems unlikely.
In 18 minutes tonight, Zhaire had six points, which included a 3, a blown breakaway layup, and a plus-6 mark for the game. He certainly looked rusty and unpolished on offense, but Smith has shown real flashes of being a plus defender. He moves his feet, is extremely active, and in his limited NBA minutes, has refused to die on screens as often as the other Sixers do. With the Sixers’ well-documented difficulties in defending opposing guards, Smith has a real chance to carve out a late-season role on this team. If Ennis misses only the two weeks estimated by the team (pause for laughter), he would be healthy after game 3 of the first round of the playoffs. There is a world in which Smith plays well enough to hold onto that job going forward.
For the Sixers tonight, JJ Redick had 29 points, Tobias Harris had 13, and Mike Scott had 22 (including 6-of-8 from 3) in a spot start.
George Hill had 20 off the bench for Milwaukee, because of course he did.
Eric Bledsoe was ejected in the first quarter for throwing the basketball at Joel after Joel threw it at him.
Also in this game, JJ hit the deck and winced because his elbow hurt, so Joel came and picked him up and then kissed his ailing elbow.
Up next: the Sixers play the Bulls in Chicago on Saturday night, as they attempt to break a three-game losing streak and tally win #50 on the season.