3 Observations as Embiid Drops Another 40-Point Game in Win Over Bucks

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

How would the Philadelphia 76ers rebound from the beatdown they suffered against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday? They responded in overwhelming force by going on the road and beating the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks 123-120.

Joel Embiid had his ninth game with 40 or more points, scoring 42 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out five assists. He outdueled Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

The Sixers' supporting cast also showed up, with Tobias Harris scoring 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Tyrese Maxey added in 19 points.

One game after the team shot the ball a meager 28.7 percent from the field, the Sixers made 50.0 percent of their shots from the field in the win over Milwaukee.

The Sixers will head into the All-Star Break with a 35-23 record. They next take the court on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 25, with new superstar acquisition James Harden expected to make his Sixers debut. Here are three observations from the win over the Bucks:

Embiid, Harris get off to hot starts

Things could not have gone much worse than they did for the Sixers in their blowout loss to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. The Sixers kept pace with the Bucks in the first quarter behind great starts from both Embiid and Harris. The duo did a good job controlling things for the Sixers' offense, combining to score 22 of the team's 24 points in the opening quarter of action.

Harris, one game after disappearing and taking only seven shots, came out and found a ton of success attacking the rim. While his three-point shot was not falling, he more than made up for it by getting to the basket at will and making multiple nice contested finishes.

Embiid got off to a slow start in the first couple minutes, turning the ball over and not getting on the scoreboard until he had a strong finish over Antetokounmpo with 7:58 remaining in the first quarter. Once he got it rolling the Bucks had no answers for how to stop him. He regained his touch, knocking down three of his four attempts from beyond the arc in the opening frame and generally dominating the action throughout.

Embiid was seen flexing his wrist as he headed into the locker room early in the second quarter, but he quickly came back out and did not miss a beat. The wrist has been visibly bothering him over the past few games, resulting in him having it taped up, and it has not really affected his play on the court.

Overall, Embiid put together another dominant performance. He scored at will, shooting 14 of 21 from the field, 3 of 4 from beyond the arc and 11 of 14 from the free-throw line. He was unstoppable, with the only blemish being his six turnovers.

Tyrese Maxey's second-quarter spark

The Sixers offense outside of Embiid and Harris only accounted for two points in the first quarter, and things were not much better early in the second frame. The Bucks looked like they were about to turn this into another blowout, opening up a 12-point lead with 4:56 remaining in the second quarter.

Maxey then proceeded to turn it on, scoring 14 points in the final 4:56 of the quarter. He scored in all areas of the court, getting to the rim and also hitting a pull-up three to the visual approval of one James Harden.

The Sixers looked dead in the water up to that point in the game, but Maxey's spark turned things around in a huge way. The team outscored Milwaukee 45-34 in the quarter to take an eight-point lead into halftime.

Another thing to note from the second quarter was Paul Millsap's performance as the backup center. He made the smart veteran plays in addition to knocking down a couple shots. He also began to develop a nice two-man game with Shake Milton.

The Millsap-Milton two-man game is something that could be crucial into helping improve the team's stagnant offense when the second unit is out on the floor. Millsap put together his second consecutive solid performance as the team's backup center, finishing with four points and four rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench.

The Sixers' hot offense continued in the third quarter due in part to a good decision from head coach Doc Rivers to bring Furkan Korkmaz into the lineup instead of Matisse Thybulle coming out of halftime. Korkmaz drilled a pair of threes in the opening minute of the half to help extend the team's lead to 75-62. Thybulle's defense is incredible, but his offense has been brutal lately.

Korkmaz had a solid night, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds. He also shot the ball efficiently, hitting 3 of his 4 shots from three-point range.

Plenty of fourth quarter fireworks

Any matchup between the Sixers and Bucks is going to be entertaining, but this one was especially so. The fourth quarter swung back and forth, with Antetokounmpo heating up and scoring 16 points in the final frame.

However, the Sixers had answers for the Bucks at every turn. Embiid did a great job throughout the quarter of getting to the free-throw line, and the supporting cast stepped up.

After an Antetokounmpo pull-up three gave the Bucks a 116-112 lead with 3:56 to play, Georges Niang answered with a quick three on the other end. Rivers made the decision to add Niang into the starting lineup tonight, and it paid dividends. Niang scored 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 5-of-10 shooting from three-point range.

The Sixers were able to build a four-point lead with 37.2 seconds remaining, but were not able to seal the game. The Bucks had a chance at the end, but Khris Middleton missed the game-tying three as time expired and the Sixers pulled out the win.

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