Joel Embiid outplayed Giannis Antetokounmpo in Philadelphia’s first home Christmas game in 31 years, collecting 31 points and 11 rebounds to help the 3-point happy 76ers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 121-109 on Wednesday.
Harris and Al Horford hit 3s over the final 90 seconds to push back a late Bucks’ run, and the Sixers improved to 16-2 at home.
There was a charged atmosphere for the anticipated matchup featuring Embiid and Ben Simmons taking on Khris Middleton and Antetokounmpo. Fans dressed as elves, wore ugly sweaters and held signs that said all they wanted for Christmas was a Sixers win.
They got it, with Embiid using the national showcase to play like an MVP in a dominant first half that helped the Sixers take the biggest halftime lead (21 points) against the Bucks under coach Mike Budenholzer.
Embiid scored 23 points and was disruptive defensively, holding Antetokounmpo to 4-for-14 shooting in the half. The Sixers hit 11 3s in the half and made the NBA-best Bucks (27-5) look like anything but Eastern Conference contenders. Embiid stood firm under the basket, arms extended sky high on one Antetokounmpo drive in transition. Embiid absorbed the contact and the “Greek Freak” lost control of the ball, one of six Milwaukee turnovers at the break.
76ers coach Brett Brown said before the game the Bucks were “NBA royalty.”
They have a ways to go before they’re crowned tops in the East.
With fans chanting “Trust the Process!” on Embiid free throws, the All-Star center was worthy of the holiday highlight video.
“I reminded our team, people in America have more appreciation for this day in the NBA,” Brown said. “We’re grateful for the opportunity.”
The Sixers aced their test against the NBA’s best.
“I’m not going to overvalue one game,” 76ers general manager Elton Brand said, “but it’s a good barometer.”
Published at Wed, 25 Dec 2019 22:10:56 +0000