Milwaukee Bucks

No-nonsense Philly fans help Sixers beat Bucks in NBA2K simulation

No-nonsense Philly fans help Sixers beat Bucks in NBA2K simulation

The first time the Sixers beat the NBA-best Bucks this season was on Christmas Day. Their second win over Milwaukee was a bit different — it came in an NBA2K simulation Tuesday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Here are a few observations on the virtual Sixers’ 72-65 victory:

A game-changing run 

The Sixers went on a 19-0 run starting in the middle of the first quarter to open up an early 16-point lead, and Matisse Thybulle and Alec Burks were two of the primary catalysts.

Thybulle was rewarded for passing up a wide-open dunk, finding Furkan Korkmaz for a three in the left corner. About a minute later, the rookie ripped the ball from the hands of Wesley Matthews, a player 10 years his elder, and cruised in the other direction for a dunk. 

Burks played well on both ends, helping to push the pace and force the Bucks to guard dribble penetration, which they had trouble doing when Antetokounmpo was on the bench. 

The one-man show 

Antetokounmpo was tremendous, scoring 32 points. He just didn’t receive very much help.

The broadcasting crew evidently enjoyed his performance. With Milwaukee trailing 30-16, Antetokounmpo smothered a Tobias Harris drive and blocked his lefty hook attempt, prompting Kevin Harlan to yell out with great enthusiasm, “And the rejection by Giannis!”

The energy was great, but Harlan’s call was perhaps a bit much in the second quarter of a game the Sixers led by 14 … 

Strong game for Harris 

The Sixers’ frontcourt didn’t provide much offense in this one as Joel Embiid scored 10 points and Al Horford only managed four on 1 for 9 shooting. At least his one make was authoritative.

Along with the bench, Harris helped mitigate those struggles. He scored 20 points (7 of 14), crashing the offensive rebounds and playing a determined, physical game. 

A classic Philly fan … 

The 2K fans in attendance at Wells Fargo Center chanted, “Go, Sixers, go!” on a few occasions. That particular chant hasn’t been in the rotation at Wells Fargo Center this year, but maybe the crowd has decided to switch things up a bit with the end of the virtual regular season nearing.

In the second quarter, we witnessed a moment that felt more realistic. As Antetokounmpo dribbled the ball up the floor and paused around the three-point arc, a lone Sixers fan yelled out, “Hey, who’s got Giannis? Come on!”

Even with the Sixers up by double digits, that no-nonsense demand of maximum effort and attention to detail seemed true to real life. 

Subscribe and rate Sixers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers' Christmas win over Bucks was defined by Giannis Antetokounmpo's uncharacteristic loss of control

Sixers' Christmas win over Bucks was defined by Giannis Antetokounmpo's uncharacteristic loss of control

Giannis Antetokounmpo lay on the floor after being stripped of the ball (and being inadvertently poked in the face) by Josh Richardson. Following a Bucks timeout, a few Milwaukee players and coaches wandered over toward their star. 

Finally, he sprang off the ground, seemingly ready to charge at referee Tony Brothers. Head coach Mike Budenholzer put his body between Antetokounmpo and Brothers to guarantee the worst punishment the reigning MVP received was a technical foul. Antetokounmpo backed away with a look of disgust. 

Christmas was a frustrating afternoon for Antetokounmpo, a player used to having his way. He had his worst shooting performance of the season (8 for 27) and was nowhere close to the best player on the floor for the day. That unofficial but obvious honor belonged to Joel Embiid, who scored 23 points in the first half, 31 in the game, and was tremendous as the main defender on Antetokounmpo. When Embiid guarded Antetokounmpo, he shot just 1 for 10, including four misdirected three-point attempts that Embiid was happy to let the Greek Freak attempt.

There were other moments and storylines that mattered in the Sixers’ Christmas win over Milwaukee, which will re-air tonight at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia, but Antetokounmpo’s loss of control is what defined the game. 

Though he’s only 25 years old, we can sometimes overlook just how good Antetokounmpo is because we’ve grown accustomed to his dominance. In just 30.9 minutes per game this season, he’s averaged 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The Bucks are 53-12 overall, 48-9 when he plays. His 31.63 player efficiency rating this year is seventh for any season in NBA history — Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James and Michael Jordan are the players who sport better single-season PERs.

Embiid insisted that playing against Antetokounmpo didn’t provide extra motivation.

“No. Just play my game,” he said. “Like I said, my goal is to get to the playoffs healthy. But if my team needs me, I’m going to show up. … A lot of people have kind of forgotten, I guess, who I am. When I’m needed, I’m going to show up. But God willing, hopefully I’m healthy for the playoffs, and it’s going to be a different story.”

The standard for when Embiid was “needed” wasn’t entirely clear, but he, at least, seemed confident in that attitude. Instead of traipsing on a joyless path to the playoffs, he could play at his peak when the Sixers required him to be dominant. 

Of course, Embiid was not the only Sixer who played well in a game which they led by as many as 29 points. Ben Simmons had 15 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds. Tobias Harris scored 22, Richardson 18. Every Sixers starter besides Simmons made at least three three-pointers, and the team hit a season-high 21 shots from long range. 

The collective effort prompted Brett Brown to say, “I think this team is designed for the playoffs.” 

That was a major theme in Elton Brand’s pregame session with reporters, too, when he was pressed on Al Horford’s struggles alongside Embiid and the Sixers’ poor play away from Wells Fargo Center. The road results were disappointing and “baffling,” he said, but there was a larger vision he still believed in. His team then gave us a pretty good idea of what it looked like. 

“I believe that the road that we have traveled so far has been a little bit erratic at times,” Brown said. “Whether it's the infrequency of our five players playing together, it's still less than half the season we've had them. Whether it's navigating through some zone, at times some lost leads. It's like you're under a microscope trying to move this team forward and trying to get it whole and improve it. But I think the landing spot is exciting.”



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Joel Embiid was almost drafted by Cavaliers, thought Milwaukee was ‘corny’

Joel Embiid was almost drafted by Cavaliers, thought Milwaukee was ‘corny’

Can you imagine Joel Embiid in Cleveland?

In his book Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports, Yaron Weitzman details just how close Embiid was to being taken first overall in the 2014 NBA draft.

Weitzman describes an Embiid pre-draft workout with the Cavs that showcased strength, skill and the big man’s signature bravado. Embiid implored then-Cavs GM David Griffin to take him No. 1 as he swished three-pointer after three-pointer, according to Weitzman.

Smiles swept across the faces of Griffin and the rest of the Cavaliers brain trust. Griffin would later tell people that it was the best workout he'd ever seen. "He was like the second coming of Hakeem," he'd say. His mind was made. "He told us there he was taking Joel No. 1," said Francois Nyam, one of Embiid's agents at the time.

The next morning, Embiid woke up with pain in his right foot, which was later revealed to be a fractured navicular bone. 

The Cavs’ doctors “wouldn’t give [Griffin] the green light," and Cleveland ultimately went with Andrew Wiggins. As for the Bucks, who ended up selecting Jabari Parker at No. 2, Embiid was not interested.

Weitzman writes that Embiid told Nyam of Milwaukee, “That place is corny.”

Though Embiid wanted to fall to the Lakers at No. 7, Weitzman says he “bought in” to the Sixers, who took him at No. 3, waited two seasons for an injured Embiid and, with Sam Hinkie no longer in the picture, eventually watched him become a three-time All-Star. 

You can read an excerpt from Weitzman’s book on Bleacher Report here and purchase it here.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers