By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers kicked off the 2023-2024 NBA season in Milwaukee facing the new look Bucks. Whenever Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo face off fireworks fly, and they both didn’t disappoint in this contest. They traded blows like it was a boxing match and ultimately the Bucks were able to use a late Damian Lillard hot streak to take this one from Philly 118-117.
The Bucks started this game off hot and they turned the Sixers struggles with communication and turnovers into points. Damian Lillard scored 17 of his 39-points in the second quarter and Philly had no answers for him in this game. He got whatever he wanted from the field, and it did not matter who his defender was he rose up over outstretched arms and the ball found the bottom of the net. There was just nothing the Sixers could do but they kept everyone else in check and made Lillard beat them and he made them pay for that strategy tonight.
Despite being down by double digits at half-time the Sixers showed excellent fight tonight at one point they were able to come back and retake the lead in this contest. Thanks to the trio of Tyrese Maxey (31-points), Kelly Oubre (27-points), and Joel Embiid (24-points) who combined for 82 of the Sixers 117-points. The Sixers finally got into the flow of their offense and started hitting shots and this trio was responsible for the comeback. Especially Oubre whose scoring kept the team afloat during Lillard’s second quarter scoring spree. He will be a pivotal bench piece and potentially sixth man. The Sixers have always lacked a scoring punch off the bench. After one game Oubre may be that heater off the bench that Philly needs to stay in contention in the loaded Eastern Conference. That combined with Maxey’s improved scoring prowess from the three-point line and new muscle should be a dangerous combination for Philly. That combination gave the Bucks fits throughout the night in this contest. If Philly had better offensive execution tonight, they may have been able to take advantage of Milwaukee’s mistakes. They will need to continue to work out the new offensive and defensive kinks if they want the result to be different next time, they see Milwaukee. Unfortunately for them despite the team fighting throughout this game Lillard closed this game out and did just enough to take this game from them.
Philly will now prepare for a Saturday night prime-time matchup with the Toronto Raptors. They will need to have improved offensive execution against the gritty Raptors. They will need to keep the ball moving and take whatever the Raptors aggressive defense gives them. Additionally on the defensive side, keeping Pascal Siakam in check has to be the number one plan for Philly. If they can keep him in check and hit the wide-open shots that their ball movement creates, they will be able to get their first victory of the season on Saturday.