Philadelphia at Milwaukee
Time: 7 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: PHI -1
Odds c/o Pincle
The Philadelphia 76ers have won eight of its past 10 overall and its last two-straight to improve to 34-27 on the season as it travels to face the Milwaukee Bucks at 7 PM Saturday Night (CT) on ESPN.
The Sixers are 1-point favorites in the game, and the Bucks have lost its past four games SU and are 19-13 at home this season. Philly has posted a 14-17 away mark, and has a point differential of +2.1, while the Bucks are -0.5.
The Sixers are tuning up for the first playoff matchup since “The Process” began some five years ago. Philly is currently seeded No. 6 in the East but trails No. 3 Cleveland by just 1.5 games in the standings. Moving up is imperative for Philly, in hopes to avoid a first-round clash with either Toronto or Boston. As tight as the Eastern Conference standings are, Philly can radically improve its draw by closing this season strong, and all indications are that it will do just that.
The 76ers have knocked off the Washington Wizards, New Orleans Pelicans, and L.A. Clippers in its past three games, winning all of the games by 13 points or more with an average margin of victory of 14.6 points. Its most recent win was a 112-98 win over the Clippers, as the Sixers had a late run to rally past the new look Clippers.
Joel Embiid had 29 points and tied his career high with 16 rebounds. Ben Simmons had a double-double again with 14 points and 10 assists. Simmons is averaging 7.3 assists per game this season, and over his past 10 games, he has notched 7.7 assists along with 7.1 rebounds and 17.1 points. He has two double-doubles in his last five games and is in a neck-and-neck race with Utah’s Donovan Mitchell for the Rookie of the Year honor.
The Sixers are focused on bigger things than the award, especially after Embiid was (perhaps rightfully) snubbed for the award a year ago, mainly because he only played 32 games last season. Embiid has the makings of a true franchise player if he can remain healthy, and thus far this season he has. He has recently been cleared to play in back-to-back games, and the Sixers can also be thankful the postseason has no back-to-backs. Embiid is averaging 23.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.5 blocks/steals per game in 31 minutes a night in his 43 appearances. He will be an All-Star this year in just his second season.
Milwaukee star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is having a season for the ages. He is averaging 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.44 steals and 1.31 blocks while posting a PER of 28.7. Antetokounmpo makes such an impact on both ends of the court, and the Bucks have some star power around him now to make a real run in the East. Eric Bledsoe was acquired for the cost of Greg Monroe, and the man sometimes called “mini LeBron” has thrived.
Bledsoe is averaging 2.11 steals and 0.6 blocks per game in addition to his 17.1 points and 4.5 assists. Khris Middleton is having another strong season with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists per game. Sophomore Malcolm Brogdon has not radically improved since his rookie season, but he has been very solid at least–and he is a strong defensive cog on the perimeter.
The Bucks have also been pleased with the progress of Thon Maker, who while not making a big statistical impact has shown some promising signs of becoming a major defensive player. Maker averages just 5.0 points and 3.4 boards per game, but he plays just 18 energetic minutes per night. The Bucks also have been getting some premier shooting from Tony Snell.
A lot of focus must be put on Jabari Parker, as well, who is seeing 18 minutes a night through his first five games. Parker is averaging 10.3 points and 3.9 rebounds, which adjusting to full-time minutes, works out to about 18 points per-36. He may be just fine. If Parker continues to progress, the Bucks may be the team every Eastern Conference team seeks to avoid drawing in the postseason.