After the Philadelphia 76ers took down the Milwaukee Bucks on March 4 to snap their 16-game winning streak, Giannis Antetokounmpo had a warning for his team.
The Sixers exploded for 48 points in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s contest, erasing an 18-point second-half deficit to start the quarter and winning 133-130. Even though the Bucks had not lost a game since falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 21, Antetokounmpo said Saturday’s loss to the Sixers could be a bad omen if his team isn’t able to shore up their defense.
“They went wherever they wanted to go, scoring from the paint, floaters, isos, offensive rebounds, free throws, 3s,” Antetokounmpo said, via The Associated Press. “You name it. They were able to get everything. We’ve got to be able to play 48 minutes of good basketball, defend for 48 minutes. This is a good lesson for us.”
James Harden, Joel Embiid Lead the Way in Sixers Comeback
The Sixers faced some adversity in Saturday’s game, with veterans Tobias Harris and P.J. Tucker both suffering injuries that left them unable to finish the game. Despite being shorthanded, the Sixers were able to get into a groove in the fourth quarter, leading to Joel Embiid’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 41.4 seconds remaining.
Embiid would finish the game with 31 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, while teammate James Harden had 38 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. After the game, Harden said the Sixers were able to seize momentum in the final frame.
“You find something that works and you try to stick with it,” Harden said. “We found something late, in that fourth quarter, and we just stuck with it. We got some stops and things changed for us.”
Harden also credited the Sixers with making the plays that were needed down the stretch.
“In the last couple minutes, it’s a tight game, it’s just shot-making and who can get a couple of stops in a row,” Harden said. “We were the team to do that.”
Joel Embiid Fired Up After Big Win
The win was an important turnaround for the Sixers, who came into Saturday’s game having lost three out of their last four. The Sixers are in third place in the Eastern Conference, but the win allowed them to stay within striking distance of the Boston Celtics in second place and four games behind the Bucks.
Embiid was fired up after the game, celebrating as he left the floor.
“Big freaking win,” the MVP candidate said on his way to the locker room.
The victory also gave the Sixers a strong start to what is otherwise a brutal stretch of the season. They had played back-to-back games against Miami and Dallas just days before, and play 12 out of 15 games on the road with four back-to-backs.
Earlier in the week, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said it’s just something that every team has to face at one point or another.
“They’re not going to change it,” Rivers said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Everyone goes through this. It’s not just us. But this is a brutal stretch down the stretch of the season. You don’t see that often, but it is what it is.”