Giannis, Khris Middleton Shine as Bucks Cruise Past Joel Embiid, 76ersApril 23, 2021
The Milwaukee Bucks got back in the win column thanks to a 124-117 defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton combined to score 51 points for the Bucks, who had dropped two games straight entering the night. They improved to 36-22 while forcing Philadelphia into a more precarious position in the standings.
The 76ers, who now boast the same record as the second-place Brooklyn Nets at 39-20 (having dropped their last three games), hold the head-to-head advantage over Brooklyn in the standings and will maintain their top seeding for now.
Joel Embiid dropped 24 points for Philadelphia in the loss.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: 27 PTS, 16 REB, 6 AST
- Khris Middleton, Bucks: 24 PTS, 5 AST
- Bobby Portis, Bucks: 23 PTS, 5 REB, 3 BLK
- Joel Embiid, 76ers: 24 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST
- Shake Milton, 76ers: 20 PTS, 4 AST, 3 REB
Milwaukee Wastes No Time in Domination
The Bucks flew out to a 10-0 lead and didn't stop piling on through the first quarter, though it wasn't necessarily for the 76ers' lack of trying.
The Bucks hit 14 of their 18 attempts from the field to end the quarter with 77.8 percent shooting and 66.7 percent from three, though Philadelphia attempted three more shots than the Bucks in the opening 12 minutes.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks in the first with 10 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday each tallied eight to carry Milwaukee to as high as a 20-point lead.
His 21 points carried Milwaukee to a 17-point halftime advantage.
Brook Lopez was also among the team's top scorers with 16 points through his first 15 minutes on the court. The group ended the half shooting 65 percent from the field, a season-high.
Things didn't slow down in the third even as Philadelphia went on an 8-0 run. The Bucks recovered to go into the final frame with a 21-point lead.
With three scorers logging upwards of 23 points and three others in double-digits, the Bucks were relentless in their pursuit of the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Last time out, the Bucks came away with a 109-105 overtime victory, even as the 76ers were playing without Embiid. But they couldn't use the absence of the big as an excuse this time, and the Bucks rolled to an even more dominant victory with him in the lineup.
Finally Healthy Philadelphia Falls Behind Early
The 76ers have been feeling the loss of a handful of players over the past few days. Their two recent losses came in the absence of Ben Simmons, who missed both games with an illness, while second-leading scorer Tobias Harris has missed the last three with right knee soreness.
Seth Curry, who was strong filling in for the team against his brother Stephen in a loss to the Golden State Warriors—the first of the two losses—didn't play in Wednesday's loss due to a left hip flexor.
Even Joel Embiid—who tried to play the hero with 38 points against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday—wasn't necessarily healthy as he recovers from the left knee bruise that sidelined him for 10 games.
Derek Bodner @DerekBodnerNBA
Embiid says he plans on playing tomorrow in Milwaukee. He then went on to say "Even tonight, I wasn't supposed to play" "We got a bunch of guys out. It's my job, just go out and be a leader, just push every night. I can't rest, even if I'm hurt." "That #1 seed is important."
All three players who had noted injuries were questionable entering Thursday, but Simmons was the only one who didn't play.
Yet the hero in the first half was Shake Milton, who posted eight points from the bench to lead the group. The team's second-leading scorer was Tyrese Maxey, who grabbed six off the sidelines.
As for the sought-after starters, Harris, Embiid and Curry each scored two in the first quarter as the Bucks shot just 43.5 percent from the field.
Things improved ever so slightly in the second quarter, as Embiid broke open to go into the half with 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
The offense left little to be desired, and there was nothing going defensively, either. Philadelphia got beat on the glass, getting beat 45-33 by the Bucks on rebounds.
Harris was strong in his return, ending the night with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting after a 12-point third quarter as the 76ers went on an 8-0 run.
But it wasn't enough to pull Philadelphia out of the hole they fell into in the opening minutes of the game.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.