After already dropping the first game to the Bucks, the Sixers could not capitalize on their chance at redemption with their injured squad.
Despite this being an extremely important game for both teams, the Sixers could not put together their best lineup for the matchup. Ben Simmons was ruled out yesterday and has now missed four straight games with his illness. Furkan Korkmaz was also scratched minutes before the game, and Paul Reed was ruled out due to health and safety protocols.
There were questions surrounding Joel Embiid’s availability all the way leading up to the game. Embiid went through a rigorous workout with Sixers’ trainers to evaluate his sore right shoulder, but it was ultimately decided he would not be able to go. Embiid was still listed as active when the inactive list had to be submitted 30 minutes prior to tip-off but intimately ended up being a last-minute scratch. This was the 19th game Embiid has missed this season.
The Sixers had no one above 6’8 on the court to start the game and began in 2-3 zone to combat the problem. Mike Scott started the game at center for the Sixers but was quickly subbed out in order to get more size on the court. Dwight Howard was the sole bright spot for the Sixers in the early minutes as he added 6 points and 4 rebounds in seven minutes of play.
The Sixers’ defense looked solid in the first quarter, but they struggled to score. The Bucks showcased a well-balanced offensive attack and ultimately took a 26-17 lead into the second quarter.
An offensive burst was provided by Shake Milton in the second quarter as he added 12 first-half points. This was essential to keep the Sixers in the game as the starters shot 5 of 22 from the field and tossed up several ugly airballs. Doc Rivers, Tobias Harris, and Dwight Howard each picked up a technical in the first half, and a late 11-3 run by the Bucks pushed the lead to 50-40, heading into halftime.
The Sixers showed signs of life at the start of the second half, led by 10 quick points by Seth Curry. A step-back jumper from Curry cut the lead all the way to one point just four minutes into the third.
Unfortunately, the Bucks answered with a 17-3 run to push the lead to 15. It was all downhill from here as the Bucks continued to pile onto their lead. The game quickly turned into a blowout, with to lead getting as large as 41 points.
The Bucks ultimately secured a victory by a score of 132-94 and advanced to a record of 37-22. There was a healthy dose of minutes for the bench guys to end the game. Tyrese Maxey provided a solid spark and finished with 15 points.
It was a depressing effort from the Sixers overall as Seth Curry was the only starter to crack double-figures. As a team, the Sixers shot just 37.8% from the field and 22.6% from beyond the three-point arc on the day.
Sixers’ Conference Outlook
The Sixers have now lost four straight, and their goal of securing the first seed has taken a major hit. Entering the game, the Brooklyn Nets held a half-game lead for first place in the East. The Nets are off today and will be back in action against the Suns tomorrow. The Sixers will now be looking to make up ground on them, and it is important to note that they hold the tiebreakers over the Nets.
As it stands, the Nets are now a full game ahead of the Sixers for first place in the East. The back-to-back victories by the Bucks have brought them back into the conference race as they are now 2.5 games out of first place and just a game and a half behind the Sixers.
The Sixers will be back in action on Monday against the Thunder with hopes of getting back in the win column. The race for first-place will be one to watch heat up as the Sixers have just 12 more games to play before the playoffs.