Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Bucks
The good and bad from Sixers-Bucks.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
In their final game before the All-Star break, the Sixers looked to rebound from their trouncing at the hands of the Boston Celtics as they headed to Milwaukee to face the defending champion Bucks. Here’s what jumped out to me tonight:
Pro: Tyrese Maxey pleases Coach Harden
As Milwaukee began to build a healthy lead early in the second quarter, Maxey checked into the game and immediately -- alongside Joel Embiid -- sparked what turned into a 45-point quarter for the Sixers.
Maxey got fouled frequently (he shot 7-7 from the line in the first half alone), and was able to add a driving layup, a floater, a mid-range jumper and a three, displaying his entire offensive arsenal in just one quarter.
Perhaps the most satisfying part wasn’t even Maxey’s play itself. It was the coaching and encouragement he was receiving from James Harden on the bench. TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce spoke at length about the budding partnership between the two, one in which Harden can take on a mentorship role for Maxey.
During a timeout right before he sparked a big run, cameras caught Harden and Maxey in discussion. When Maxey converted an and-one at the rim soon after, we saw Harden enthusiastically yelling “THANK YOU” over and over in Maxey’s direction.
These two figuring out how to coexist on offense will be a major storyline for the rest of the season. While we haven’t seen them share the floor just yet, I’d say these interactions are encouraging.
Pro: Furkan Korkmaz progressing to the mean?
After returning from an injury, Korkmaz has shot just 28.4 percent from three-point range in 23 games entering tonight’s contest.
Due to various injuries and trades, he’s been tasked with a lot this season -- from starting on the wing to backing up at point guard, the Sixers have asked him for a whole lot, and he was appropriately overwhelmed.
These struggles have been too consistent and too significant to believe they’re going away after just one good performance. But Korkmaz gave the Sixers a huge boost off the bench tonight, even playing over Matisse Thybulle at the start of the second half because of how much smoother the offense looked with him in it.
Pro: Embiid dominates in impressive win
Embiid was absolutely dominant for the vast majority of tonight’s game, finishing with 42 points, 14 rebounds and five assists on extremely efficient shooting: 14-21 from the field, 3-4 from three-point range and 11-14 from the free throw line.
Embiid’s shot-making was otherworldly, as he was almost exclusively taking tough jumpers against strong contests and scoring regardless. It was yet another brilliant showing from Embiid in a season full of them.
There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said: Embiid is playing like the odds-on MVP favorite that he is.
Bonus Pro: George Niang shines
Shoutout to Georges Niang, who was excellent tonight on both ends. We couldn’t fit him in as one of the three bullets, but tonight might have been his best game as a Sixer — he knocked down five threes and more than held his own defensively against Giannis Antetokounmpo.
And now, we wait for a new era of Sixers basketball to begin after the break.