Game Preview: Can Embiid and Simmons defeat Giannis in Cream City?

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The Sixers are in Milwaukee to take on the Bucks for the third time this season. So far, the home team has won each game, a trend the Sixers are hoping to break tonight.

The Sixers have been undefeated since they last played the Bucks on 2/6, all of those wins have come at home though. The Sixers are an NBA best 26-2 at home but a disappoint 9-19 when away from Philly. The Bucks are also among the best in the league at home, their record is 25-3. Nothing about tonight’s game will be easy but there will be plenty to learn from no matter the outcome.

Keys to the Game:

Slow Down Giannis

There are few players in the NBA who are unstoppable, Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of those players. While you can’t stop Giannis, you may be able to slow him down. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are the keys but they’ll need to bring all their effort against Giannis.

Simmons

Simmons has evolved into one of the premier defenders in the NBA, he is also one of the most versatile. He can defender the perimeter, the post, and everywhere in-between. Giannis may be the most athletic player in the NBA but Ben Simmons is also on the shortlist. Simmons’ athleticism will be key to slowing down Giannis.

Embiid

While Simmons has the athleticism to match Giannis, Embiid has the strength along with the ability to get inside opponents’ heads. Earlier this season we saw Giannis take an uncharacteristic seven attempts from three, the reason for this is that Embiid defender Giannis like everyone does Ben Simmons. Embiid sagged a good 10 feet to encourage Giannis to know that Giannis either wouldn’t shoot or wouldn’t make the shot. Giannis finished the game missing all seven attempts from deep.

The Sixers should employ a similar strategy tonight, but what if Giannis doesn’t bite? Well. Joel Embiid is also one of the top post defenders in the NBA when he’s healthy. Assuming Embiid is (he certainly looked healthy against the Nets) Giannis will have a tough time scoring.

Move the Ball

One priority has to be ball movement, the Sixers finally have the shooters a contender needs. The team needs to make sure the half-court offense isn’t stagnant. Ben Simmons should be aggressive in the half-court looking for driving lanes and open looks to pass. Far too often teams are able to suffocate the Sixers because of their lack of spacing but thanks to the recent benching of Al Horford, the Sixers have a little more space on offense.

New Sixer Alec Burks is coming of a fiery performance against the Nets where he scored 19 points, the team should look to keep the hot-hand going. Brett Brown needs to make sure that his best players are also on the floor meaning Raul Neto should get the night off. He is a great shooter but a defensive liability, one that could cost the Sixers a shot to win this game.

Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Shake Milton, and Alec Burks should be the primary ball-handlers tonight, they can all score, pass, and have enough athleticism to play solid defense. Brett Brown needs to think carefully about his rotations and must be sure to stress ball movement tonight.

Prediction:

The Sixers have looked much improved with Horford coming off the bench, they may have struggled against the Nets, but the comeback was certainly impressive regardless. The Sixers will put up a fight tonight but I just don’t think they’ll take this one from Milwaukee.

Final Score: Sixers 109 – Bucks 113

Catch the game tonight at 8:30 PM EST on ABC or if you prefer, you can listen to the game on 97.5 FM the Fanatic. This game is a must-watch, be sure that you do.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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