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Bucks vs. Sixers Final Score: Milwaukee Pounded by Philadelphia in second half, 113-104

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Philadelphia makes as many threes as Milwaukee attempts in the holiday game loss

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NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Process was an unforgiving path towards potential greatness for the 76ers franchise. That same process spared little thought for the Bucks’ feelings today, ripping them apart in the second half in a 104-113 defeat for Milwaukee.

Milwaukee failed to find any sort of offensive rhythm all game, particularly with Giannis Antetokounmpo struggling with foul trouble in the second half and ultimately fouling out. They gave up easy threes to Philadelphia in the first and third quarters, topped off by surrendering point blank shots in the paint and helping the Sixers reach the line 36 times today.

Giannis played only 29 minutes tonight, a detriment given he was on his way to a stellar game with 21 in the first half. Still, he finished with 23 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks. Jabari Parker matched his 23 points, adding five rebounds, an assist and two steals. As is becoming alarmingly customary, Greg Monroe (14 points, six rebounds) and Malcolm Brogdon (11 points, six assists) looked like the only other competent Bucks on the court.

Joel Embiid’s Milwaukee debut didn’t disappoint, finishing with 22 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, most of that coming from his 13-18 night at the free throw line. The Sixers had seven other players reach double figures on the day, with Saric the other high man at 17 points and nine rebounds.

Philadelphia shot 44.9% today-up from a poor 35.9% showing in the first half-compared to Milwaukee’s 47.2%. However, Philadelphia made as many threes as the Bucks attempted on the day-14-and made 14 more free throws. The Bucks couldn’t capitalize effectively enough on the Sixers’ 19 turnovers on the day, mustering only 19 points off of those compared to Philadelphia’s 21 points off Milwaukee’s 13 turnovers.

Giannis started up the holiday game with seven straight points, finishing it with a savvy shove of Covington to nail a jumper before the shot clock expired. After a Henson lay-in, Robert Covington responded with eight for Philadelphia, including two easy threes, to bring the Sixers back within 9-8. Philadelphia’s early game parade from deep continued with two from ten-day contract Chasson Randle and one from a clearly vengeful Ersan, staking a 20-15 lead.

Giannis re-entered as the quarter closed, getting an immediate dunk and close-out block at the three-point arc. He finished the quarter with 12 points after a runner over Chasson Randle, as the Bucks tied it up at 24 despite six three-pointers from Philadelphia.

Greg Monroe shined around the rim to start the second, but Milwaukee still trailed halfway through the quarter until a Jason Terry transition three-pointer tied it at 35. Philadelphia scored five straight, but Milwaukee answered in kind with 13 in a row, finally letting the ball loose from deep with back-to-back-to-back threes from Parker, Brogdon and Tony Snell. That all followed Giannis teaching Gerald Henderson that sometimes it’s better to just get out of the way, which is coincidentally a central tenet of Jahlil Okafor’s defensive philosophy.

Milwaukee went into half leading 54-46, with Giannis as the clear leader at 21 points on 9-11 shooting including a few jumpers. Jabari added seven and Greg Monroe had nine with Milwaukee shooting 52.3% on a minute 4-6 shooting from deep.

Philadelphia shot a poor 35.9%, including 8-21 from deep as Robert Covington led the team with eight points despite all of those coming at the start of the game. Joel Embiid struggled offensively with only four points, all at the free throw line, while Jahlil Okafor tallied six.

The Sixers started the half on an 8-0 run to tie up the contest before taking the lead, 57-56, on an ensuing Embiid three. Like the first quarter, Milwaukee was unable to contain Philadelphia on the perimeter, and the Sixers hit four three-pointers in the early segments of the quarter for a 63-62 lead. Milwaukee failed to establish any sort of offensive momentum, and Philadelphia continued finding easy shots with a wide open Saric three helping the Sixers end the quarter up 81-78.

Giannis picked up his fifth foul almost immediately in the fourth against Joel Embiid to send him to the line, forcing the Bucks to cobble together offense in lineups without Jabari or Giannis. It didn’t look pretty, and neither were the results, with Philadelphia going up 94-86 and the Bucks offense looking more misguided than a malfunctioning roomba.

Giannis and Jabari re-entered at the 6:31 mark, but Milwaukee’s offense continued to sputter with a Giannis dunk attempt spinning out on an Embiid contest. Two more Embiid free throws, his sixteenth attempt for the night, put Philadelphia ahead 102-89 and after Giannis fouled out on another Process dunk attempt, he left the game with Milwaukee down thirteen and three minutes to go. Milwaukee failed to close the gap much further, ultimately falling 113-104.

Thoughts:

Nerlens Noel was a late scratch before the game, so Milwaukee was able to feast on Jahlil Okafor down low whenever Embiid exited the game.

Rashad Vaughn came in today, taking Jason Terry’s late first quarter minutes. He played for two minutes, gave up a Stauskas three, and was promptly yanked for Terry.

Giannis chasedown blocks are getting more and more violent. Here, he shattered Sauce Castillo’s shot like a bottle of his silly hot sauce.

There was a point in the first quarter when Matthew Dellavedova tried to drop a pass to a trailing Michael Beasley, who bungled the ball and meandered around the perimeter. I couldn’t help but pine for Teletovic’s sure-handed rapid fire shots. Since the Spurs game, Beasley has been wholly average for Milwaukee and his skills are duplicative on the court. When he’s on, he’s worth keeping out there for easy shots at the rim and some facilitation, but it seemed beneficial to try Teletovic’s gunning attitude back out there for a stretch. I got my wish in the fourth quarter when Mirza finally did get some minutes due entirely to Giannis getting his fifth foul. It was ugly; he missed all his shots including a wide-open three-pointer and came out several minutes later for Giannis. *Throws hands in air*

Dellavedova had a looping pass over Embiid to Monroe who slipped behind him for a catch at the rim and layup. It may not be at the level of BrogRoe, but Delly’s had a few connections with Monroe that have made it seem they’ll be able to replicate some of the chemistry Moose has with Brogdon.

Embiid struggled to score at the rim and from the perimeter in the first half, but his defensive aura felt menacing. Giannis and Jabari both went up against him for potential finishes at the hoop only to be suffocated by his presence underneath the rim. He also made John Henson’s seemingly unblockable hook shot look quite blockable.

John Henson let Jahlil Okafor take him baseline on the same move twice late in the second quarter, as Okafor merely ripped through, dove to the hoop and bodied up Henson’s slender frame for easy buckets.

Dario Saric hit the ball while it was rolling around the rim in the second quarter after a Brogdon layup attempt. Clearly, he misses the international rules where that would’ve been a legal play.

John Henson threw a behind the back pass to Giannis at the hoop who had a layup counted after a goaltending call. For as poor as Henson’s played, he seems to have at least one pass per game that makes my mouth sit agape, mostly due to my low opinion of his passing ability.

Giannis missed the entire last six minutes of the third quarter due to picking up his fourth foul, and after Joel Embiid came in for the final few minutes, Philadelphia went on an 11-5 run to lead by three. It felt like a pivotal point when Milwaukee could’ve used Giannis’ energy to stop any bleeding.

Giannis only playing 29 minutes was definitely a big reason why the Bucks lost, but you know who played less minutes than him? Joel Embiid. Giannis still had enough time in the fourth to try and help the Bucks come back, but instead they fell even more behind while he was in the game. I’m not laying this loss at Giannis’ feet, especially since he was the only Buck who looked competent today, but he also failed to help the team cut into a lead against a poor opponent down the stretch.

This is, abjectly, a bad loss for Milwaukee after a similarly poor performance against Atlanta yesterday. With a game against a strong Western Conference opponent looming on Wednesday, this is all setting up a bit like déjà vu from last week, when Milwaukee dropped a bad game to Washington before heading to San Antonio. We’ll find out whether the Bucks can surprise with a reorienting win against a quality Houston squad, or send the team spiraling further.