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Sixers can’t overcome hot Bucks start, Embiid foul trouble in loss

The Bucks got off to a blazing start. The Sixers got back into the game, but Joel Embiid’s foul trouble led to a big Milwaukee run.

Philadelphia 76ers v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Sometimes it just isn’t your night.

While you were watching Succession, or Wrestlemania, or the Phillies, the Sixers lost 117-104 to the Bucks Sunday night in Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetekoumnpo led a red-hot Bucks offense with 33 points on 13 of 17 shooting, along with 14 rebounds, six assists, and three blocks. Milwaukee’s team field goal percentage was over 60 percent until garbage time.

Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers in scoring with 29 points, shooting 6 of 7 from beyond the arc. Joel Embiid had 28 points, as well as nine rebounds and five assists in just under 32 minutes of action.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • This one felt like a pickup game at the start. Milwaukee was off to a blistering pace from the field, making their first eight shots, shooting 70 percent in the quarter. It wasn’t even horrendous Sixers defense, save for a bit of over-helping.
  • The Sixers’ offense was off to a fairly good start themselves, though they played with more panic as they failed to keep pace. Embiid’s midrange was falling early, with 13 of his 28 coming in the first, and Maxey bookended the quarter with a three from the wing.
  • Back in the lineup after missing Friday’s win with an illness, Tobias Harris provided some rare highlights on the defensive end, recording three stocks in the first. This still did little to halt the Bucks’ momentum, as they led by 15 after the first.

Second Quarter

  • James Harden gave the Sixers exactly what they needed, a quick seven-point spurt to start the quarter. Paul Reed had another solid stretch with four points and a couple of offensive boards.
  • While they got the offense they needed, the Bucks showed little signs of slowing down. They only made one three in the second, but got whatever they wanted inside. Eighteen of the Bucks’ 29 second-quarter points came in the paint.
  • Even a good Harden quarter ended poorly. What was originally called a foul on Khris Middleton was challenged and overturned after Harden appeared to hook his arm. This sent Harden to the bench with three fouls as the Sixers trailed by 16 at halftime.

Third Quarter

  • Maxey’s defense has quietly come along a lot over the past couple of weeks. He’s been picking up ball handlers full court and using his speed to be a pest. This strip of Antetokounmpo might just be the best defensive play he’s made.
  • Maxey’s imprint was all over the third as he continued to shoot the ball well. Thirteen of his 29 came in the third as the Sixers put a couple runs together to the cut the lead to as little as five.
  • Not trusting stars after they pick up their fourth foul is probably going to be something I complain about all year, and it hurt the Sixers quite a bit. Embiid picked up his fourth with just over two minutes left in the third, sending Brook Lopez to the line down eight. The Bucks pushed that lead back to 14 with Harden and Embiid both sitting to close the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

  • Searching for anything to give the Sixers’ some life again, Doc Rivers elected to go with his with P.J. Tucker at center. Unsurprisingly, Giannis ate up the small-ball lineup like it was his morning cereal.
  • This would have been a fine adjustment, but Reed was the only bench player remotely contributing. He was 3 of 4 from the field with four offensive rebounds, while the rest of the bench shot 3 of 14 before the benches were pulled.
  • The Sixers will return home for another marquee matchup, their fourth and final against the Boston Celtics, this Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

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