Picking up their third win in a row, the Bucks improve to 29-33 on the season, thanks to a convincing victory over an inferior team. A solid defensive effort forced a Sixers team lacking top-tier offensive NBA talent to shoot 44% from the field, compared to the hot-handed Bucks who shot 42.4% from three and 50% from the field.
Tony Snell sparked the first half surge with 18 first-half points, tying his season high by game’s end with 21 total and 7 rebounds. After a fairly quiet first half, Giannis Antetokounmpo came out aggressive in the third quarter, notching a game-high 24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks (an Antetokounmpo stat line specialty.)
The Bucks halfcourt offense was plugging along with only four fast break points on the night. Matthew Dellavedova and Khris Middleton dished 7 and 8 assists respectively. Defensively, the Bucks stayed aggressive, fighting for loose balls in scrums, and kept their hands active, taking 7 steals from the slick-handed 76ers. Justin Anderson, Dario Saric and Robert Covington scored in double digits, but the shots just weren’t falling for the 76ers who looked disinterested and hopeless halfway through the third.
John Henson had another solid game putting up 48 solid minutes sitting on the bench, while Greg Monroe took over possessions when the time came against Philadelphia’s meek inside defense. Thon Maker’s early rim protection and scoring helped sparked the quick start for the Bucks. Meanwhile, Spencer Hawes, although not matching his Saturday night production, showed an ability to facilitate from the elbow, and he looks to be ahead of Henson on the depth chart for now.
The Bucks got off to a hot start with Tony Snell knocking down multiple trailer threes and getting 8 quick points to help the Bucks get out to an early 12-2 lead. Thon Maker started the game and was played some impressive rim protecting defense against the quick 76ers driving offense that started out 0-9 from the field.
After hesitating and passing up a three and then missing an Ersan pump-fake, step-in jumper, Giannis knocked down a smooth kick out three from the wing. A solid first quarter ended with the 76ers hitting a last second layup in transition, cutting the Bucks lead to eight, 27-19.
Having missed six straight field goals, Snell and Mirza Teletovic knocked down back to back three pointers within the flow of the offense. Running off a defensive rebound, Jason Terry pushed the ball up and found Snell streaking behind the defense for an uncontested slam.
Shooters gonna shoot. The Bucks offense was making it rain from deep with Snell, Dellavedova and Middleton hitting threes before the timeout midway through the second quarter with a 16 point lead. The 76ers rookie of the year candidate, Dario Saric, struggled on the offensive end missing jumpers with the defensive stalwart Mirza Teletovic bumbling around in front of him. He also threw a nifty-looking pass directly out of bounds trying to find a wide open shooter on the weakside.
Coming off his hot game on Saturday night, Coach Kidd gave Spencer Hawes some run in the second quarter. Hawes missed his lone three-point attempt, but he kickstarted the Bucks Rookie of the Year candidate, Malcolm Brogdon, by finding him on back-to-back possessions cutting around him into the land for easy layups.
With Nerlens Noel and the 76ers rim protection in Dallas, he inside scoring continued for the Bucks even without Monroe in the game as Brogdon cut hard to the free throw line from the wing, got the pass from Middleton and slammed it home with his left hand as the clock approached zero.
Snell’s 18-point first half outpaced everyone as the Bucks went into halftime up 60-43 thanks to a balanced attack offensively. Getting hot from three early opened up the lane for some some smooth passing action late as cutters created space for easy buckets. Hawes was the only Buck who didn’t score in the first half, but his two assists along with Dellavedova’s and Middleton’s five pushed the Bucks into the break with a healthy lead.
To suppress the Sixers drives and inside passing, the Bucks let them get shots but were there to swat them out of mid-air. Maker and Brogdon both denied shots at the rim, and Giannis smacked two shots with authority inside. Saric lazily lost his dribble and Middleton answered with a pull up three pointer with Saric’s hand lackadaisically set in front of his face.
Brogdon and Snell knocked down a pair of threes, and after Giannis saved Middleton with a bailout block on Saric who bodied up Middleton in the post, Middleton repaid the favor by driving down the right side of the lane and dished to Giannis for an old-fashioned three-point play at the rim.
A 31-point third quarter closed out with a very quiet Giannis alley-oop, skying his outstretched hand almost to the top of the backboard, off a pass from Terry. Then Monroe decided he wanted to do Moose-things, brutishly asserting his will in the post for back-to-back back-to-the-basket buckets. Despite an ugly 24-second violation on their last possession of the quarter wherein Delly dribbled the vegemite out of the ball and botched a pass to Giannis, the Bucks entered the fourth up 23-points, 91-68.
The fourth quarter was the usual garbage time back-and-forth featuring Giannis playing too many minutes down the stretch, filling Coach Kidd’s mentions with angry tweets, and ending in a 112-98 victory for the Bucks.
- The best quote from the Bucks broadcast crew of Jim Paschke and Marques Johnson came from Johnson when talking about how he ate biscuits as a young child while the Bucks put on their early game three-point barrage: “Sop it up, bunch of biscuits out there!”
- Early in the telecast, when the starters were still in, Johnson also took a subtle shot at John Henson by saying that with Thon Maker starting the game you know you’re going to get maximum defensive effort and solid rotations on every possession.
- Giannis’s long arms are such a weapon when he gets trapped inside. He had another one of those, “oh crap, I’m stuck down here, surrounded, what do I do” moments, but he saw Monroe cutting to the other block. Giannis wrapped his right arm around his defender like he was going for the hug, but instead he dished the ball to Monroe for an easy layup with everyone keyed in on Giannis.
- The Bucks looked really locked in and didn’t let the game slip away at any point. They were actively fighting for loose balls and rebounds even when the game was clearly out of reach for Philly.
- On one possession Greg Monroe hustled his butt down to the offensive end ahead of everybody else, firmly secured his position in the post and was waving for the ball adamantly. The 76ers adjusted and were sucked mentally and physically into defending Monroe in the post as a first priority, allowing Snell to sneak in and knock down another trailing three before they had time to adjust.
The Bucks next game is in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, when they host the New York Knicks.