Joel Embiid drops 42 in 76ers statement win over defending champs
This game felt like a heavyweight fight, two of the better teams in the Eastern Conference going blow-for-blow in a nail-biting matchup for the 76ers. In a much better performance than Tuesday night, the 76ers beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks by a final score of 123-120.
Two of the frontrunners for MVP battled it out on national television Thursday. Joel Embiid led all scorers with 42 points, and Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 32. With this victory, Philadelphia moves up from the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference back up to the third.
Coming back from a difficult night against Boston, Embiid decided to dominate on of the league’s best defenses and drop a smooth 42 points. The Bucks were throwing three defenders in his direction at times in this game, and he still managed to surgically pick them apart.
The Bucks opted to let Bobby Portis and Serge Ibaka take their chances against Embiid and were quickly shown that they have no shot. Embiid made 14 of his 21 shots from the floor and got both Milwaukee centers in foul trouble rather quickly. He said that this game was about “sending a message”, and Thursday he showed again that he is the MVP of this league.
After taking some advice for his new teammate and mentor, James Harden, Maxey immediately went on a 10-2 run by himself early in the second half. His improved ballhandling and game management has given Philadelphia a much more relaxed late-game offense. The second-year guard also got to the free-throw line ten times and converted every attempt.
Maxey finished this game with 19 points, tied for the second most on the team, and dished four assists while being guarded by one of the league’s top perimeter defenders in Jrue Holiday. What’s most impressive is he finished the night with zero turnovers.
A much-needed boost from Niang in this game where he added 18 points and shot 5-for-10 from beyond the arc. He even took defensive responsibilities on Antetokounmpo for stretches, drawing an offensive foul and doing a relatively fine job all things considered. Niang stuck in the game in the closing minutes due to his play, and showed he can make the Sixers a versatile team down the stretch of tight matchups.
Thursday was the final game before the All-Star Break, so the 76ers will be off until next Thursday. Their meeting with the Timberwolves (2/25) will likely be the debut of James Harden. If you’re eager to watch Joel Embiid play before next week, he will be playing in the All-Star game Sunday night. Same goes for Tyrese Maxey, who will be participating in the Rising Stars game.
Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports