On Thursday night, the Philadelphia 76ers faced off against the Milwaukee Bucks, two days after losing their opening game to the Boston Celtics. The Bucks defeated the 76ers 90-88. The loss drops the Sixers to 0-2 to start the year.
All eyes were on the star bigs coming into the Thursday night battle. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks and Joel Embiid of the Sixers are the top stars of their respective teams.
Antetokounmpo scored 21 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dishes out 8 assists, while leading the Bucks to victory. Embiid scored 15 points and grabbed 12 points in the loss.
The Bucks found success against the Sixers’ big man on Thursday night. Typically, Embiid averages nearly 30 points against the Bucks, but on Thursday, he struggled to exceed 20 points. Playing in the entire first quarter, Embiid was active early. He shot 4-9 from the field and 2-3 from the free throw line for 11 of his team’s 24 first-quarter points.
In his next seven minutes on the court, Embiid went 2-5 from the field for four points. He wrapped up the first half with 15 points as the Sixers trailed by two. Often last season, Embiid’s slower first-half performances would reverse directions, and he would find more success in the second half.
For the next 11 minutes coming out of the half, Embiid managed to get up five shots from the floor. None of which were successful. The 76ers hoped the momentum shift would help Embiid get it going in his five minutes on the floor during the fourth quarter, but the big man simply didn’t have it. With two shots from the field, Embiid missed both attempts. He wrapped up the second half by missing all seven of his shots and contributing zero points in 17 minutes.
Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers said this about Embiid, “He just didn’t have a great game.” “He’s human. He didn’t have one of his better games. He did a lot of other things for us tonight. I thought defensively, he was pretty good tonight. We got him 21 shots. I didn’t like where some of them where he got it. We’re still a work in progress offensively. We gotta get a better rhythm.”
The Sixers wanted to develop an identity of toughness and become an elite defensive team this season. So far, they haven’t done a great job of showing progress in either area.
Their star player Joel Embiid has struggled brutally at the start of this season.
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. Photo courtsey of All 76ers on FanNation