With the regular season coming to a close, the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers both look to be prime competitors to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA finals this season. Let’s enjoy these fleeting few last games where the Bucks remain atop the league with their stellar record while simultaneously rooting beyond belief for them to knock off this Philly squad that beat them in Milwaukee several weeks ago.
Following a buzzer-beating loss at the hands of the man most committed to keeping his wispy hair alive, Trae Young, the Bucks bounced back with a solid win against a sweet-shooting Nets team. Beyond a questionable officiating performance, Milwaukee battled through a 36% shooting night from deep on 44 attempts for Kenny Atkinson’s club. Brooklyn got to the line 34 times as well, but the Bucks just kept battling and staved off repeated attempts by the Nets to get back into the game. Hopefully, they’ll be healthy enough going into this Philly contest with their marquee three back and ready for prime time. More importantly, what name will Giannis shout at Ben Simmons tonight? Calling him an F*!$&% baby is legendary, but I think he’s got some more vitriol in him should the mood strike him after a thunderous dunk. In good news, both Khris Middleton and Ersan Ilyasova are listed as probable to play, with the usual group of five guys out still.
I’ll also be at this game, so I’m still taking suggestions in the comments for sick burns I can level at Sixers fans around me and my Philly fan roommate.
Player to Watch: Sterling Brown
Brown’s been an absolute defensive demon this season, and has flashed a larger repertoire of offensive skills since replacing Tony Snell in the starting lineup. His dribble drive game in particular has keyed several offensive runs for Milwaukee this late, including a key one down the stretch in Brooklyn. Malcolm Brogdon offered this team a unique advantage with his driving skills, but he wasn’t around for Milwaukee’s 125-130 loss last time against the Sixers. Mirotic took the starting reins, but went 0-6 from deep. Brown’s shotmaking and flashes of offensive versatility will hopefully carry over from prior games to give some additional scoring punch.
So...sounds like the Sixers had a rough one last night:
This was a brutal night for the #Sixers. Not only did they lose to the #Hawks, Ben Simmons lost a tooth, Jimmy Butler got unintentionally hit in the face, Jonah Bolden received a bloody nose and James Ennis III re-injured his right quad.— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) April 4, 2019
Philadelphia is also coming off a 20-point thumping at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, a team with a penchant for leveling some of the league’s upper elite as the season winds down. They have been without Joel Embiid, who has been sitting for load management but is being re-evaluated today. Obviously, they’re a very different team when missing their stud beneath the bucket, and his 13 3-point attempts last time out vs. Milwaukee underlined his offensive importance to this squad. More importantly though, he made Giannis work for his baskets, with Antetokounmpo going just 7-16 when directly matched up against the Cameroonian center. Philadelphia found their groove last year without Embiid in the lineup late, but he unlocks a whole new offensive level for them. If they had a hot shooting night, they could knock off Milwaukee, but this game probably comes down to whether he trots out there or not.
Player to Watch: Tobias Harris
Unsurprisingly, Harris’s numbers have dipped since coming over from the Clippers. There are lots of mouths to feed in Philly, but his per-36 figures are still relatively consistent with his featured days out in LA. The one thing that hasn’t translated was his sweet shooting touch. In 5.2 attempts from deep per game, he’s hitting just 34.5% of his long-range jumpers. In LA, that number was 43.4%. He’s a career 36.6% shooting from 3-point land, so it could just be a bit of reverting to the mean for Harris thus far. Regardless, he had just 12 points for Philly against Milwaukee, attempting just seven shots. He clearly took a backseat. If Embiid can’t go, look for him to try and feast on the additional usage available.
Game 79: Against the Sixers the Bucks will
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)