Sixers vs. Bucks: Joel Embiid leads Sixers to victory after Tyrese Maxie suffers left foot injury

Sixers vs. Bucks: Joel Embiid leads Sixers to victory after Tyrese Maxie suffers left foot injury

The Sixers lost Tyrese Maxey to injury but moved above .500 (8-7) for the first time this season with a win over the Bucks on Friday night.

After posting 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting and five assists, Maxey was ruled out at halftime with a left leg injury, according to a Sixers official. (More on maxi below.)

The Sixers still won a gutsy, 110-102 win at the Wells Fargo Center. Joel Embiid led them with 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Tobias Harris (left hip soreness), James Harden (right hamstring strain), Furkan Korkmaz (left knee strain) and Jaden Springer (right quadricep strain) were all out.

Milwaukee lost Khris Middleton, Wesley Matthews, Pat Connaughton and Joe Ingles.

The Sixers will finish their back-to-back on Saturday night against the Timberwolves in Philadelphia. Here are observations of their victory over the Bucks:

Embiid, Antetokounmpo bring their best early

With the Sixers playing after a four-day layoff, it wouldn’t be surprising if Embiid took some time to rediscover a rhythm and The brilliance of his 59-point performance on Sunday. Fortunately for the Sixers, he looked exactly the same right out of the gate.

Antetokounmpo also got off to a strong start, driving for an emphatic dunk and a pull-up jumper to give the Bucks a 7-2 lead. For Embiid, the Sixers emphasized early touches in the middle of the floor against Brook Lopez. Although Lopez defended Embiid well when the Sixers lost their home opener to Milwaukee, much of Embiid’s success always seems to depend on whether he takes comfortable shots.

On Friday, he recorded the Sixers’ first seven points, tying the game at 7-all with a top-of-the-key three-pointer. He eventually got some scoring support from Maxey, whose wing three capped an 8-0 run.

Embiid also kept the defensive highlights rolling in the first quarter. After Antetokounmpo found an angle for PJ Tucker to drive to the left, Embiid moved to deny him at the rim. The Sixers capitalized with a maxi layup in transition. Antetokounmpo excels at putting constant pressure on opponents and ripping off any possible momentum. He pulled up for a long-range jumper and sank it, giving the Bucks a 15-12 edge.

In the end, Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee managed to grab a 13-point advantage late in the first. Some of that boiled down to the respective productions of Embiid and Antetokounmpo, but the Sixers’ early struggles with the Greek Freak on the bench were different. Sixers head coach Doc Rivers used a lineup with Embiid surrounded by Shaq Milton, D’Anthony Melton, Mattis Thiebul and Georges Niang. Former Sixer George Hill made a three over Milton, who was called for traveling on the Sixers’ next possession.

The Bucks started 12 for 18 from the floor and 5 for 9 from long range, meaning the Sixers had to come from behind for their second straight meeting with Milwaukee.

Milton (15 points, six assists) had another rough stretch with Embiid early in the second period. After Hill stole the ball from him in the open floor, Milton dropped his head and the Bucks pounced on a fast break opportunity, getting a Jrue Holiday layup to go up 39-28.

Harden’s absence has highlighted several areas of weakness for the Sixers, and the team’s second-unit guard play has often been a concern over the past few weeks. Maxi’s injury has now put more pressure on Milton and Melton. Korkmaz did a light workout after the Sixers’ shooter on Friday morning And called himself “everyday”.

Maxie was injured at the end of a great half

The Sixers’ defense has been strong latelyBut it certainly didn’t carry over into the first half.

Their starting lineup was a solid defensive group on paper; Danuel Hawes Jr. and Melton Embiid played alongside Maxey and Tucker. However, box size and rebounding created predictable problems. 6-foot-11 Bobby Portis had two second chances in the first six minutes.

Tucker picked up his second foul on a running screen with 1:26 left in the first quarter, though Rivers kept him in the game. While the Sixers didn’t put together many stops with Embiid out, Maxey did a great job confidently creating offense and scoring at all three levels. He hit an impressive step-back jump shot over Antetokounmpo in the corner and hit an open, after-timeout triple to make it 23 points late in the second. When he is aggressive and clear in his role, the points pile up quickly for the 22-year-old.

Maxi’s game ended abruptly. A drive was fouled and fumbled with 1:36 to go in the second quarter. Although she tried to take a few steps forward in the crowd, it was immediately obvious that her pain was not going away. Maxey split his two free throws before being subbed out.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that X-rays on Maxie’s leg were negative and she will have an MRI on Saturday.

Despite Maxey’s stellar play, the Sixers were down seven points at halftime due to their lethargy. There’s nothing wrong with a few turnovers related to pushing the pace, but the Sixers carelessly gave the ball away several times before the break. Melton committed a long, ill-advised pass to House, one of the team’s 11 first-half gifts.

Of course, once Maxey is eliminated, his status becomes a bigger issue than the outcome of the game. The Sixers know they can survive with a very Embiid-centric style of play, but they obviously wouldn’t like to play without an extended backcourt.

Finding an (unusual) way down the stretch

The Sixers started the third quarter well without Maxi and Embiid took a 69-67 lead on a mid-range jumper.

The minutes when Embiid sat were more adventurous than ever; Rivers used a Paul Reed-Embiid lineup in the second and third quarters. With 2:37 left in the third, he went to a Reed-Montrejol Harrell frontcourt and asked Reed to guard Antetokounmpo. That decision first paid off when Reid isolated the two-time MVP and drove down the defensive boards. Georges Niang (17 points) eventually drained a three-pointer to give the Sixers an 84-77 lead. A Milton runner and a buzzer-beating house jumper were the other key baskets during that unorthodox Embiid-less period.

With Embiid out, Rivers’ tactical calls at the plate increased. Reed understandably removed Thiebul about a minute and a half into the third quarter; This is not a pairing that would normally be conducive to efficient offenses. Thiebule, who has missed the Sixers’ last two practices with an ankle injury, got just four minutes.

After a few minutes of a Tucker-Harrell frontcourt early in the fourth quarter, the Sixers led 92-90 and subbed Embiid back into the game. Antetokounmpo’s woes at the foul line were instrumental in giving the Sixers the lead at that point. He took 4 for 15 in the game and the home crowd loved every miss (as well as the growing “Bricks for chickens” award)

Compared to Sunday night’s win over the Jazz, the Sixers’ supporting cast did a much better job of chipping away at Embiid on offense in the fourth quarter.

On a key sequence, Melton skids for a defensive rebound and then throws the ball to Milton. With Embiid noticeably erased, he didn’t cross half court until there were about 15 seconds left on the shot clock. He swings the ball to Niang, who gets past Portis and makes an and-one layup. On the next down, Embiid assisted on Melton’s big corner three and the Sixers took a 102-99 lead.

Embiid’s mid-range game is always an excellent option even if he’s stretched out. He buried back-to-back jumpers to extend the Sixers’ lead to seven points. Then, Milwaukee determined to have someone else beat them, he turned down the dribble on a pull-up jumper and instead found Milton for a wide-open layup.

If there was any doubt he would turn in another MVP-level performance, Embiid nailed another jumper over Lopez.

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