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Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia: Bucks Earn the Win vs. Sixers, 124-117

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The win was more decisive than it appeared

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

In a nationally televised Thursday night game, the Bucks were able to get the job done vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, 124-117.

Five points from Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday apiece helped the Bucks race out to a very fast 10-0 lead in the opening two minutes of this one, with Milwaukee’s offense immediately looking strong. The Bucks would continue to pour it on. Beautiful spacing with timely cuts really frustrated the Philadelphia defense, putting the Bucks up by 20 at times. At the end of one, Milwaukee had constructed a 40-26 lead.

Brook Lopez was really stroking it from deep in the first half, especially during the second quarter. His 3-point ball helped the Bucks maintain their double-digit advantage, as the momentum stayed soundly on their side during the period. As the teams headed into the locker rooms at halftime, the Bucks’ lead had expanded to 17 points, 77-60.

No. 34 on the Bucks would really start cooking in the third quarter, putting the Philly defense in shambles. It’d help the Bucks continue to keep Philadelphia at bay, with Milwaukee’s scoring output being simply unmatched. Going into the final quarter of regulation, the Bucks held a 108-87 advantage after a 14-2 run to close things out.

The Bucks would continue to hold control throughout the remainder of the game, but the bench would eventually have some lackadaisical play that allowed Philly to get within shouting distance in the waning seconds. However, Milwaukee was eventually able to put the final touches on their victory and left with a 124-117 victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo would lead all scorers in this one with 27 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor, Khris Middleton also made a big impact, concluding his evening with a 24 point effort.

Joel Embiid was the leading scorer for the Sixers, scratching out 24 points of his own.

What Did We Learn?

I’m going to take what I said during my Rapid Recap and recycle it here. Coming into this one, we all knew one of the key matchups to keep an eye on would be Brook Lopez vs. Joel Embiid. It’s clear that Embiid is a strong MVP candidate, and if the Sixers are going to want to knock the Bucks out of the playoffs, a strong series will be needed from him. However, Lopez held his own vs. his counterpart. Sure, Embiid would end up finishing as the leading scorer for the Sixers with 24 points, but Brook did what he needed to do — not let Embiid dictate the game. On the other end of the coin, Brook himself made a big splash with 16 points, including four threes that really helped Milwaukee start to roll early on. We’ll see how the matchup looks on Saturday night when these teams re-convene again, but I’d say Brook got the victory in the Part I.

Three Observations

When Khris is on, so are the Bucks.

Nine times this season, Khris Middleton has registered a 25/5/5 performance. While he’d finish a point shy of 25 last night and tally only one rebound, he was still a real factor in the Bucks’ victory. Any time you see Khris get the strong start he got last night, it typically results in good things for Milwaukee and last night was another example. Right out of the gate, he connected on a pair of threes, which you knew really aided his confidence. That type of scoring really seemed to be contagious for his teammates, as the Bucks quickly established their lead early on in this one.

Bobby Portis provided a real spark off the bench.

Looking at how this game went in the third quarter, Bobby Portis was a big reason as to why the Bucks were able to continue the momentum for the Bucks. He continued to be the strong sixth man that he’s been all year for Milwaukee, wrapping up his showing with 23 points, including 5-of-5 from 3-point land. In his postgame presser, Bud mentioned just how big those threes were, as it really allowed them to keep the separation. As for the man himself, he mentioned how he and Bud had a conversation the other day about being who he is and provide the energy. The energy Bobby brings on both ends of the floor night in and night out is truly an X-factor for this team.

Aggressive Jrue is a dangerous Jrue.

We all know what Jrue Holiday can bring to the team, and lately, he’s been discussing the importance of being more aggressive. Last night, he definitely brought that aggressiveness, straight from the opening tip. Right away, he was consistently making drives, wheeling and dealing through the Philly defense. Bud attributed Holiday’s impact in getting to the paint as a catalyst to get things started for his teammates, which really helped them build up such an early lead. Despite scoring just 12 points on the evening, Holiday has still scored at least 20 points in seven of the last 12 games. You know that he’ll be bringing that same level of aggressiveness in Part II of this matchup on Saturday night.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • PJ Tucker would be relied on to guard Embiid at times last night, and when his number was called, he fulfilled his duties. Bud gave him big praise on his ability to quickly move his feet and anticipation and just being tough to move off his spot. I agree with that statement. I don’t think I’d do much of a job (if anything) in trying to post up PJ Tucker.
  • While I like the Sixers branding overall, I still think that they should incorporate the ballin’ Ben Franklin logo more. That thing is awesome.
  • Speaking of PJ Tucker (this was taken from his Instagram story following the snowfall in Milwaukee on Wednesday), this was a pretty good tweet from the Bucks:
  • In his return to Milwaukee, #OldFriend George Hill finished with six points on 3-of-4 shooting. You can still tell that his relationship with his old teammates is still intact, as there were friendly interactions prior to tip-off:
  • Look who was in attendance for this one! What’s your favorite Michael Redd memory?