It’s a heavyweight battle Friday at Fiserv Forum, as Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks host Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. Will the Bucks teach Philly another lesson with a victory? Or, will the Sixers avenge their loss earlier this season to Milwaukee?
Catch this game live on Friday, February 18, at 9:30 AM, Manila time.
Away: Philadelphia 76ers (34-23/18-10 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Tyrese Maxey
- SG: Furkan Korkmaz
- SF: Matisse Thybulle
- PF: Tobias Harris
- C: Joel Embiid
The Sixers will have to wait a little bit longer before they can finally show off their shiny new weapon in the form of James Harden. The good news for them is that Joel Embiid is available this Friday together with Tobias Harris to lead Philly in its attempt to rebound from a horrific 135-87 home loss to the Boston Celtics Wednesday. The Sixers are a much better team than what that result suggests, even when that was against the red-hot Celtics.
Philadelphia shot just 28.7 FG% in that game, the worst in a game this season for the Sixers, so there’s no way but up for Joel Embiid and company in the upcoming showdown against the Bucks, who had just allowed the Indiana Pacers to shoot over 50% from the floor in their most recent outing. The Sixers lost to Milwaukee at home back in November, 118-109, but that was when they didn’t have Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Matisse Thybulle. All three will be starting this Friday. Embiid leads the Sixers with 29.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. As a team, Philadelphia are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games as an underdog away from home.
Home: Milwaukee Bucks (36-23/20-10 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jrue Holiday
- SG: Grayson Allen
- SF: Khris Middleton
- PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
- C: Bobby Portis
Giannis Antetokounpo morphed into a video game character Wednesday, as he exploded for a season-high 50 points to go with 14 rebounds and 4 assists. The rest of the Bucks players just had to watch Antetokounmpo and ride the coattails of the two-time MVP in the game, though Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday churned out good numbers as well, with 19 and 14 points, respectively. Antetokounmpo and the Bucks terrorized the Pacers in the paint with 62 points in the shaded area, but they could switch their offensive approach up Friday with Embiid patrolling the area for the Sixers.
The Bucks can shoot down Philly with their outside shooting. They are fourth in the NBA with 14.2 threes per game on 36.5% accuracy – also top five in the league. Milwaukee has been better of late in terms of outside sniping, having knocked down an average of 15 3-pointers on 38.8 3FG% in the team’s past five contests. The Bucks, 4-0 against the spread in their last four home games versus Philadelphia, are also a decidedly better rebounding team than the Sixers. They are first in defensive rebounds per game and fourth in rebounds per contest.
The Sixers got ripped apart by Boston, so a big response is expected of them. That’s going to be easier said than done against a team like Milwaukee that got its mojo back after getting embarrassed by the Portland Trail Blazers. Embiid will get his usual numbers again here, but Milwaukee’s perimeter scoring and elite rebounding will keep the Sixers at bay. Going with the Bucks to cover (-6.5).
Because of their rebounding, the Bucks will control the tempo of this contest, and one thing we know about Milwaukee is that the play fast. They are sixth in pace and ninth in shots per contest. The Sixers are averaging just around 85 attempts from the field per game, but they could get more thanks to the Bucks’ speed. Taking the Over (223.5) for this game.