The Eastern Conference race is the tightest it’s been in a long time. With only eight games remaining, the top four seeds are separated by one game. As teams finish their regular season, eyes will be on Brooklyn to see where they finish. The top teams will likely want to avoid the dangerous Nets team in the first round. The matchup between the 76ers and Bucks tonight has major playoff implications and positioning to try and avoid the aforementioned Nets team.
On the season, Milwaukee and Philadelphia have split the two games they’ve played. Milwaukee won the first matchup by nine in a game where 76ers were without Embiid and Harris. Tyrese Maxey scored 31 shooting 50% from the floor.
The most recent matchup was the game just before the All-Star break. Embiid was an absolute monster in the game scoring 42 points while shooting 67% from the field. Giannis was once again the high scorer for Milwaukee with 32 points shooting over 50% from the floor. Round three should be the best game of the series with both teams likely to have their full compliment of players.
Matchups to Watch
Embiid vs. Lopez
All eyes will be on Giannis and Embiid as they try to make a last ditch effort at their case for MVP. Giannis is averaging 31.5 points in the series and Milwaukee will likely need a similar effort to emerge victorious. The key matchup in the game will be Embiid vs. Lopez. The dominance Embiid showed during the last meeting was remarkable. He scored from every level including 3-4 from 3-point territory and 11-14 from the free throw line. Lopez size should make life for Embiid a bit more difficult. As long as Lopez doesn’t put Embiid on the free throw line, he’s unlikely to go off for another 42 points.
Who Guards Maxey?
After the James Harden trade, Tyrese Maxey is almost forgotten about. The Bucks, however, cannot forget about him. Maxey is shooting 41% from 3-point land on 4.0 attempts a game. Jrue Holiday will likely draw the Harden assignment given his success against him in the past. Harden hasn’t played well against top teams in either conference as of late. If Harden doesn’t shoot well, the 76ers are struggling to beat good teams.
If utilized, Maxey can score in bunches but doesn’t command the ball like that of his All-Star counterparts. Should Philadelphia decides to play through Maxey, it will be interesting to see who coach Bud deploys as the defensive stopper.
Do Any Bucks Players Rest?
As of now, Giannis is the only player listed on the Bucks injury report. Giannis is being considered a game time decision. There should be no fear that Giannis is actually injured, rather a way to give him a break as the season comes to an end should be need it. With this game having playoff seeding implications I suspect that Giannis will play. In addition, this game will likely have a playoff atmosphere. If coach Bud has any reservations on whether he feels his team is ready to meet the physicality and emotion of a big game, he will find out tonight.
With the game being on the road, odds makers have given Philadelphia a 1.5 point advantage. Honestly, I thought they would favor Philly more with both teams being well rested. Coach Bud will also be mindful of the minutes his stars play understanding the bigger picture.
Prediction: Philly -1.5 and Over 228.
For More Wisconsin Sports Content
Follow me on Twitter at @wifecallsmecarl and follow @WiSportsHeroics as well for more great Wisconsin sports content! To keep up to date on the latest in Wisconsin Sports, click here! Also, check out our merch store for some amazing WSH merchandise!