Well, how’s that for a statement win?
The Sixers came back to defeat the NBA’s hottest team, erasing an 18-point second half lead to knock off the Milwaukee Bucks 133-130 Saturday night. James Harden had his highest scoring game as a Sixer with 38 points, along with 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Joel Embiid scored 31 points on 11 of 22 shooting, hitting the go-ahead three-pointer with 42 seconds left to snap the Bucks’ 16-game winning streak.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- Doc Rivers opted to again with Starting Lineup Two: Electric Boogaloo as Tyrese Maxey was once again back with the opening group.
- And the offense looked good to start the game, with plenty of ball movement to stretch the Bucks’ defense. The big fella had four assists in the first, his flashiest was finding P.J. Tucker under the basket after drawing Antetokoumnpo and Brook Lopez.
- That hook shot was just one of two field goals the Sixers made from the paint in the opening quarter, but they balanced that out by shooting 5 of 10 from beyond the arc. Milwaukee matched the offense as the game was locked up at 29 after one.
- Going any minutes against this team with both Embiid and Harden on the bench is a losing formula, especially with Giannis on the floor. Of course it didn’t help that Harden really struggled when he returned to the game. After a hot start, Harden shot 2 of 8 and turned the ball over twice in the second quarter.
- It feels like Tyrese Maxey has gotten a tough whistle, but that wasn’t the case in the first half. Six of Maxey’s 12 points in the half came from the charity stripe, while also shooting 3 of 4 from the field.
- Jrue Holiday also got going as he led all scorers with 15 at the break. The Bucks shot 60 percent from the field in the second quarter. Despite only shooting 35 percent in the second themselves, the Sixers only trailed by six at the half.
- Already trailing by six, Philly started the second half with another deficit. Tobias Harris was ruled out with left calf soreness. Harris originally hurt his calf in Monday’s loss to the Miami Heat. P.J. Tucker was also ruled out early in the third quarter due to back spasms.
- Things only got more miserable for the Sixers, as Grayson Allen exploded for 20 points in the third quarter. The Sixers did a good job of killing their own 7-0 run by surrendering two offensive rebounds in a row that led to an Allen four-point play.
- Even with Embiid and Maxey, heating up, not much went right in the third quarter. Milwaukee took advantage of lackadaisical transition defense to shoot 11 of 14 from three in the quarter, and outscored the Sixers 19-9 with Antetokoumnpo. The only thing preventing this game becoming a 20-plus-point lead was some absurd shot making from Embiid and Maxey.
- Similar to Thursday night in Dallas, the Sixers ripped off a 15-2 run to start the final quarter after looking dead in the water. It was a real up and down night for Harden, who scored or assisted 12 of those points. Paul Reed also deserves a lot of credit, both for his defense on Antetokoumnpo and this momentum and-one.
- After being broken down on the side of the road for all of February, the Minivan finally got a jumpstart. Georges Niang shot 5 of 6 from deep tonight, hitting four of his threes in the fourth quarter.
- This Sixers team has a resilient quality they haven’t shown in years past. Even as they struggled to stop Giannis down the stretch, they didn’t panic. They continued to get into their actions and chip away at the lead. Embiid not only hit the go-ahead three, but also iced the game by forcing an Antetokoumnpo travel on the other end.
- The Sixers road trip rolls on, as they’ll head to Indiana to take on the Pacers Monday at 7 p.m. ET.