Milwaukee will enter Sunday nights match up with Philadelphia in the midst of a season high four game losing streak. As the regular season reaches it’s climax, each loss ensures that the pressure continues to mount. Now just one game clear of the 8th seed, the Bucks are suddenly flirting with disaster. Unfortunately the schedule is offering no relief, as they now are face a Sixer team that is full of confidence, having won ten of their last thirteen contests.
The latest loss for the Bucks came in a scrappy performance against the Indiana Pacers. Battling hard all night, they simply could not find a way to execute on offense and despite a late run, fell short by 7 points. It also marked the first time this season the Bucks had lost four games at home this season.
Philadelphia have recently leaped the Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings to now hold down the 6th seed. They are 1.5 games ahead of the Bucks and will be looking to create further separation as they pursue home court advantage in the Playoffs. Coming off two straight double digit victories against Cleveland and Charlotte, they will be full of confidence as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons continue to set the league alight. Against the Hornets on Friday, Embiid and Simmons combined for 38 points, 23 rebounds and 11 assists, leading the Sixers to a dominant 36-to-19 fourth quarter, and a come from behind victory.
This will be the third game of the season series so far, with the contests being won by the home team thus far. Philadelphia destroyed Milwaukee at home by 22 points with the Bucks missing Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks then dished out their revenge by taking out a 12 point victory as Embiid sat on the sidelines. In an exciting story line heading into the game, both All-Stars are set to be on the floor at the same time for the first time this season.
The Bucks will again be missing Malcolm Brogdon as he continues his recovery from a serious quad injury. Matthew Dellavedova is nearing his return from an ankle strain, but is not expected to play tonight. Tony Snell is set to be a game time decision, and would be an extremely welcome addition to a team perilously short on guard depth. Justin Anderson is listed as day-to-day on the injury report for the Sixers, and further info will provided closer to tip off.
Every game of late has been against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff contender for Milwaukee, and they have come up short each time. For the time being, they appear relatively comfortable in their playoff position, but their seeding continues to trend in the wrong direction. Giannis and co will be looking to finally get over the hump and break the losing streak.
‘Trust The Process v Trust The Results Part III’ is here, and it should be a good one.
Kane’s Keys To Victory:
- Pack The Paint: Much like opposition teams have started doing in an attempt to slow down Giannis, the Bucks will need to protect the area close to the basket. With Embiid and Simmons extraordinary scoring abilities at the rim, it will take multiple defenders in the area to slow them down. In a ‘pick your poison’ type scenario, this will likely result in the Sixers attempting to beat you from the outside. JJ Redick, Robert Covington and the recently acquired Ersan Ilyasova will have no problems firing away if given the opportunity. Long story short, it’s hard to pinpoint which area to try and stop Philly’s offense first. But if you can limit the amount of points the sensational rookie and big All-Star score in the paint, you’ll be off to a good start.
- Getting Back To The Greek Peak: Giannis is working his way through a rough patch right now. He finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds against the Pacers, but his scoring came at an unusually ineffective rate of 6-for-18 from the field. February brought Giannis season lows across the board shooting wise, and defenses have caught on to the Bucks lack of outside shooting, forcing Giannis and co to try and score from the outside. The Bucks are now have a win-loss record of 2-9 when Giannis shoots under 40 percent from the field. Simply put, the Bucks need Antetokounmpo to fire if they are to notch an important victory tonight.
- Home Court Vibes: The Milwaukee crowd when given the opportunity can bring a home atmosphere to rival any arena in the league. The success starved fan base are desperate to explode at any opportunity. Unfortunately of late, those opportunities have been few and far between. A sluggish Bucks team lumbered it’s way through the Pacers game, unable to execute on either end through the first three quarters, leaving the Bradley Center crowd hushed though out. The game before, they fell behind by 21 points just six minutes into the contest. With only nine home games left before the playoffs begin, taking care of home court is essential. They just need to give the crowd something to cheer about.
Follow Kane Pitman on twitter: @mkebucksaus