MILWAUKEE — The “Greek Freak” was back in the lineup, and oh how that changes a game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points, 18 rebounds and six assists in the Bucks’ 107-95 win over the Sixers on Monday after missing their previous matchup in Philadelphia.
“He’s the head of their snake,” Brett Brown said before the game. “He’s the focal point of their offense and trying to find matchups that can guard him is challenging.”
The Sixers dropped to 24-23, while the Bucks improved to 27-22.
• Joel Embiid did not play because of his back-to-back restriction. He was made available for consecutive games Sunday, but on Monday he was ruled out after playing 36 minutes the previous night against the Thunder.
“There was a lot of loading,” Brown said. “There was a lot of up-and-down last night. It was always going to be a decision how we handled him this morning. When you look at it sort of in the totality with all the games coming up, we didn’t feel comfortable putting him in a situation tonight.”
The Sixers fell to 2-8 without Embiid. They are planning for him to play in his first career back-to-back Friday at home against the Heat and Saturday on the road against the Pacers. He was with the team on the bench in Milwaukee.
• The Sixers shot a dismal 2 for 26 from three-point range. That equates to a mere 7.7 percent. Robert Covington (1 for 8), Dario Saric (0 for 8) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (0 for 4) took the majority of the attempts. Saric still finished with a team-high 19 points.
• On the flip side, the Sixers went 21 for 23 at the line. They also limited turnovers to 14 but the Bucks committed only nine.
• Ben Simmons finished with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. Covington and Richaun Holmes, who played 23 minutes in Embiid's absence, scored 13 apiece.
• Khris Middleton had another solid game against the Sixers with 19 points, seven rebounds and six dimes.
• JJ Redick (leg) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) did not play. Watch Markelle Fultz (shoulder) go through pregame drills:
Markelle Fultz in Milwaukee: pic.twitter.com/OixqFZCIBl— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) January 29, 2018
• Injury-hampered Bucks forward Jabari Parker was cleared to play this Friday. It will be his first game since suffering an ACL tear last February.