The Philadelphia 76ers will make their return to Wells Fargo Center tonight in their second game of the season, taking on the Milwaukee Bucks. Philadelphia took a tough loss to the Boston Celtics in their opener, while Milwaukee will be making their season debut in this matchup tonight.
Philadelphia will roll out the same starting five as they did in their opener with Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker, and Joel Embiid. Milwaukee will be missing the services of All-Star forward Khris Middleton as well as guard Pat Connaughton, so their starting five is in question. Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez will all get a spot, likely joined by one of Wesley Matthews or Jordan Nwora.
Keys To A Philadelphia Victory
Philadelphia fumbled against Boston on Tuesday due to multiple fixable problems. For one, they could’ve done a better job calling plays for Maxey. Harden was used as the primary ball-handler, Embiid was used in the post, and Harris was used as an off-ball tertiary option. This structure works, but better with Maxey in Harris’ role. A majority of the time, Harris will get the ball off the catch and either take a spot-up three or take two to three dribbles to the mid-range. Maxey puts more pressure on the defense in this role due to his ability to explode to the rim with his speed and burst off the catch. His touch and body control allows him to finish over bigger defenders. This allows him to get to the line with ease as well, tallying more points for Philadelphia. He’s also great at exploding and getting off quick mid-range pull-ups that are hard for defenders to guard, as he sets his feet quickly and goes up with a well-timed jumper. Maxey should get more play calls against Milwaukee to move off the ball and create, rather than sit in the corner waiting for looks.
The 76ers also looked lazy and tired defensively towards the latter half of the Boston game. It looked as if the entire team, especially Embiid, had given up on that end. Philadelphia also didn’t give enough time to two of their top defensive pieces, Matisse Thybulle and Paul Reed. Pieces like Furkan Korkmaz, Georges Niang, and Montrezl Harrell were getting time over these two, and all three are well below average on that side of the ball. Philadelphia will need to stay locked in all game, while giving more time to guys like Thybulle and Reed to help provide on that end.
Keys To A Milwaukee Victory
Without Middleton, Milwaukee’s back looks to be against the wall. They’ll need to use Antetokounmpo in a scoring role tonight, rather than an all-around offensive role. The “Greek Freak” shouldn’t have a tough time trying to score against this Philadelphia defense. When they begin to put more pressure on him in the form of double-teams, then the shooters have to be ready to spot up and hit shots. They’ll need a few guys to get hot around him, anywhere from Bobby Portis to Grayson Allen.
Holiday has to conserve his energy for defense. Harden had an elite game against Milwaukee, and it looks as if he’s closer to his peak athletic form than last season. Milwaukee may struggle to stop this Philadelphia offense if Harden and Embiid can both bounce off each other on offense, so they’ll need to limit Harden’s scoring and force turnovers.
The Spread via FanDuel-
Moneyline: MIL: (+148) | PHI: (-176)
Spread: MIL: +4 (-110) | PHI: -4 (-110)
Total: 224 —Over: (-108) | Under: (-112)
With Middleton absent from Milwaukee’s lineup, it may be tough for the Bucks offense to flourish. They’ll need a big game from Antetokounmpo, along with the shooters to hit their shots at a high rate. Expect Philadelphia to win their first game at home with big performances from Harden, Maxey, and Embiid.
Score Prediction- 76ers 111, Bucks 104