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FutureStarrThe 76ers Made a Major Comeback Against the Bucks
On Saturday night, the Philadelphia 76ers made a stunning comeback to defeat the Bucks 118-110. This victory marked an amazing turnaround for Philadelphia who had lost four straight games and dropped to a season low of 38-22.
Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Sacramento Kings despite missing several key players such as Tobias Harris (left hip soreness) and Tyrese Maxey (late scratch with a foot injury).
Joel Embiid has been one of the NBA's most consistent scorers this season, scoring in double digits in 21 of his games with an average of 32.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game over 34.6 minutes played.
Since the All-Star break, he hasn't missed a game. However, he continues to experience left foot soreness. Though he wants to keep playing, both his body and mind need some rest.
On Friday night, Embiid was a key factor in the 76ers' comeback victory against the Bucks. He scored 32 points and made some key plays down the stretch to propel them to victory.
The 76ers had a slow start, but Embiid put together one of his best performances this season in the second half. Even though he struggled shooting from the field and his shots weren't falling, he managed to keep his team in contention by blocking several dunk attempts that could've given the Bucks an advantage late in the game.
As a result, Embiid was able to offer much-needed leadership on the court. He kept the team motivated when they were down big, while also playing well against Milwaukee's frontcourt - featuring Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.
This is an example of how Embiid can be a major asset on a winning team without needing to be the star scorer. This ability has been developed over his career and something he hopes to keep honing throughout it.
The Sixers had a difficult start, but Embiid kept his team in contention until halftime. Despite only shooting 7 of 14 from the field in the opening half, he managed to score 19 points and help lead them to an eventual 24-22 advantage. Maxey also had an excellent first half with 24 points that kept the Bucks ahead of the 76ers.
After struggling through their first two games of the season, the 76ers made a stunning comeback to beat Milwaukee 90-88 on Thursday night. Trailing by double digits at halftime, Philadelphia rallied to secure victory through Joel Embiid's defense. It was truly an epic comeback - one that could've gone either way had it not been for his heroics.
The 76ers employed Embiid's presence on the floor to stop Milwaukee from scoring. They did an effective job of taking Antetokounmpo off of the ball and restricting his offensive options.
However, he was still able to make some big plays in the second half. He scored 15 points and added 12 rebounds in the final quarter while also having a key steal late in the game that helped secure victory for Philadelphia.
Embiid was able to contribute significantly on defense with his impressive passing skillset, as well as on the glass--which has been an issue for the 76ers this season due to their lack of size on their roster.
He had an outstanding game against Milwaukee, particularly the third quarter where he scored 20 points. His clutch shots in that quarter kept the 76ers in the game and even helped them take the lead.
When on the court, Embiid's defensive game truly shines. He is adept at ball-screen coverages and rotates to deter downhill drives; he toggles across the ball screen to disrupt plays; and he excels at anchoring the 2-3 zone.
He is highly adept at defending the pick and roll. His instincts are impeccable, as he can get into the paint quickly without giving up too much room.
He is an impressive defender and can be a valuable member of the 76ers' defensive rotation. In fact, Embiid was already named to the All-Defensive Second Team this year and now has an opportunity to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year next season. Winning such an honor would be something that Embiid deeply desires; having never before received such recognition before now, he wants it all for himself.
On Saturday night, the Sixers made an incredible comeback to defeat Milwaukee in the final minute. Trailing by 18 points with just under three minutes remaining, Embiid hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 42 seconds left for what proved to be their second consecutive victory against the NBA's hottest team - Milwaukee had won 16 straight games before their matchup at Wells Fargo Center on Friday.
Embiid had an impressive shooting performance against Milwaukee, connecting on 11 of 22 shots from the field, including three triples, and making 17 of 18 free throws. Though he didn't shoot well in the first half, he made up for it in the second and third quarters.
Though Embiid's shooting from distance has improved, his mid-range accuracy still needs work. He only made two of his seven shots in the first half and one of his 12 attempts in the second.
But his three-point shooting has improved recently, shooting a career high 38.6% from deep this past week and going 3-for-6 on Monday. While this sample size is small, this could be an encouraging sign for the future.
It's not the first time Embiid has improved his three-point shooting, but he must keep it up to be a top option in the backcourt. Additionally, Embiid is getting better at driving for slam dunks and posting up for easy buckets.
If Embiid can improve his mid-range shooting and three-point shooting, the Sixers will gain even more from him. That would give him more opportunities to be a star on the wing and help the Sixers make another playoff run this season.
In addition to his impressive 3-point shooting, Embiid also excels at pulling down rebounds and scoring from the paint. His pump fake in the paint allows him to either drive for a slam or get past his defender for an easier basket.
Despite some defensive miscues and missed rebounds, Embiid had a good performance against the Bucks. He finished with 31 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.
The Bucks took an early lead, as the Sixers struggled to make shots. They were outrebounded by a significant margin and couldn't seem to get Giannis Antetokounmpo off of the foul line.
The Sixers were held to just 40 second-half points, which is an encouraging sign. Furthermore, they limited Milwaukee to five free throws in the final 10 minutes of play.
As the game progressed, Embiid began displaying his offensive skills in various ways. He made numerous fadeaway jumpers and threes that beat the clock, as well as some step-backs and midrange shots.
He took advantage of Holiday's lack of defense on Embiid, forcing him to miss some open shots and give away dimes. Additionally, he forced Lopez to switch screens more than usual.
While Embiid still managed to hit some shots in the first half, his energy level dropped off significantly in the second. He scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting during the first quarter but went scoreless for much of the remainder of play.
Embiid's rebounding was key in this game, and he made sure his teammates knew it. Embiid finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in 37 minutes of action.
At the end, he helped Philly come from behind to win 110-102 and move their record to 8-7 on the season. Additionally, it marked their first road victory of the season - an enormous step for a squad that had lost three straight games.
After a slow start to the season, Embiid is back to his best form. In 21 games this past month, he's averaged 32.0 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 blocks while missing just one due to left foot soreness; thus far the 76ers don't anticipate any issues keeping him off the floor if necessary.
In the end, Embiid demonstrated why he is an MVP candidate. His performance has been at a career high and he's remained healthy throughout. That will allow him to carry Philadelphia through this stretch of games and keep the team competitive in the Western Conference race.