Another night, another star player the Sixers weren’t able to keep in check.
Despite Ben Simmons' return for the Sixers, they were unable to prevent Giannis Antetokounmpo from notching a triple-double in a 123-108 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Sixers fell to 2-3 on the season with the loss and remained winless on the road.
What’s going on with the rotation? Was Joel Embiid actually outplayed by another center?
We dive into that and more in our observations.
• I wholeheartedly understand it’s only five games into the new season and no one wants to overreact. However, the distribution of minutes among guards has reached a head-scratching level.
One night after T.J. McConnell played 32 minutes and Markelle Fultz sat the final 10 of regulation and all of overtime, things took another tumble in Milwaukee.
In this one, McConnell was suspiciously glued to the bench until the 7:02 mark of the third quarter while Fultz played 27 minutes.
All NBA coaches are attempting to get a grasp on their rotations at this point of the season, but Brett Brown might have to nail down a decision on his faster than most to get this thing settled.
• Teams seeking to reach an elite level don’t show this brand of rapid inconsistency.
The Sixers followed up arguably their best defensive quarter of the season in the first with an absolutely dreadful showing in the second. They allowed the Bucks to shoot 57.6 percent from the field in the frame, including a ridiculous 66.6 percent from three-point range.
Center Brook Lopez went off with four triples of his own in the second quarter as the Bucks scored 49 points. They turned a 12-point deficit into a seven-point lead.
We understand the Sixers are still working on implementing a new defensive scheme, but at the end of the day it comes down to simply stopping the man in front of you from putting the ball in the basket.
• Simmons looked solid in his return after missing one game with back tightness. He provided the Sixers with a boost early as the team raced out to a 34-22 lead at the end of the first quarter.
While Simmons turned in his second triple-double of the young season (14 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists), a glaring concerned was evident again: free throw shooting.
Simmons was 2 of 6 from the line and is now at 52.6 percent from the stripe in 2018-19. That’s actually down from his 56.0 percent from a season ago.
• Embiid was caught out of his element far too often on Tuesday night as he was forced to chase Brook Lopez (21 points, 5 for 11 from three-point range) around the arc. Not the best situation for the big fella on the second night of a back-to-back set.
Despite not having the best game, Embiid still managed to muscle through for 30 points, 19 boards, six assists and three blocks.
That is one of the true signs of being a great player when you can have an off night and still put up numbers to give your team a chance.
• Unfortunately for the Sixers, any chance they had was snuffed out by Antetokounmpo.
Much like Tuesday night with Blake Griffin, the Sixers had absolutely no answer for the “Greek Freak.” Antetokounmpo turned in absolute dominant stat line of 32 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks and a pair of steals.
The Sixers may not be able to completely lock down opponents’ star players, but they have to at least slow them down.