Sixers bracing for test vs. Bucks
The Philadelphia 76ers will look for their fourth straight victory when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.
The Sixers defeated the Sacramento Kings 123-114 on Friday to remain in the third spot in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. The Bucks are in first place, eight games ahead of the Sixers.
Philadelphia moved a season-best 19 games above .500 as all five starters scored in double figures against the Kings. Jimmy Butler led the way with 22 points, followed by Joel Embiid (21), Tobias Harris (19), JJ Redick (19) and Ben Simmons (18).
The Sixers are 14-2 this season when all five starters reach double figures.
The new-look Sixers will be facing the Bucks with a revamped roster including the likes of Harris, Boban Marjanovic and James Ennis. It will be a measuring stick type of game as the playoffs approach.
"I can't wait because I think what it is, is it's a reality check," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "It really is an opportunity for us to see where we're at. That's why I like those types of games. You want to play Toronto or Boston or Milwaukee, Indiana, you can really get a gauge on where you really are at."
Finding balance offensively has been a tough task since the roster was restructured. The effort against the Kings was among the best in terms of balance, shot selection and execution as a group.
"Just picking up our spots out there on the floor, the ball movement, and just the energy," Harris said. "I thought this was a great game. We saw the energy through the offense and that was -- came from our defense, but overall. we got the shots that we wanted and we had a good balance too, having all starters get going."
The Bucks, meanwhile, rallied for an incredible 113-98 win on the road against the Miami Heat on Friday. They trailed by as many as 23 and by 20 at halftime before surging in the second half to an improbable victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was stellar all-around with 33 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists while Khris Middleton added 21 points and eight assists.
The two All-Stars virtually willed the Bucks to a win.
"It doesn't matter if we're down 20, 15, 10, we're going to keep playing hard and it's a process," Antetokounmpo told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "You've got to win games like this, you've got to face adversity while playing on the road because in the playoffs it's not going to be easy. We want to be a great team and that's why we're going to keep playing hard every night and every time we go out there and have a chance to play a ball game we'll always play hard."
This win marked the first time in NBA history that a team trailed by 20 or more points at halftime and went on to win by at least 15.
Clearly, the Bucks are proving that they're a team which plans on contending for a championship.
The Bucks were 0-77 all-time when trailing by 20 or more at halftime. Amazing.
"To do what we did in the second half, I'm just pleased with the guys, the way they were able to flip it," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters. "Our defense fuels our offense. We want that to be our identity."
--Field Level MediaHome