While undermanned, the gritty Sixers gave the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks all they could handle. The Sixers only used eight players, and in the end that wasn’t enough.

Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, and Isaiah Joe remained out while in health and safety protocols. Sharpshooting guard Seth Curry was unable to go due to a foot contusion. Ben Simmons is still out.

But the focus should be on the Sixers who did more than just show up. Tyrese Maxey and Co. performed well against Giannis Antetokounmpo in front of a home crowd. They’ll just need more help going forward.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

What grade would you give the Eagles coaches so far this season? sports.daily@inquirer.com

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Early Birds

Actually, all the Eagles’ goals are still in front of them. Despite compiling a 3-6 record with just over half of the regular season completed, they have an easier upcoming schedule. Could the playoffs — yes, the playoffs — still be in reach?

Columnist Marcus Hayes believes that the Eagles should win seven of their final eight games. The Eagles have seen coach Nick Sirianni finally figure out the offense and what can be a winning formula with Jalen Hurts and an even a bigger dose of the running game.

But at midseason, the results so far are still mostly underwhelming.

Extra Innings

Phillies president Dave Dombrowski said last month that Didi Gregorius is not guaranteed to be the starting shortstop in 2022. On Tuesday, Dombrowski didn’t guarantee top prospect Bryson Stott would be the guy either, but he told him to come to spring training “with the mind-set of trying to win a spot with the big-league club.” Of course that would be a big leap for the 24-year-old Stott, who hit .299 with a .876 OPS last season across three minor-league levels but has played just 10 games at triple A. It might be worth a shot for the Phillies, who suffered through one of the least-productive seasons in baseball from Gregorius.

Bryce Harper took home another postseason honor on Tuesday, taking another step toward the big prize, NL MVP, which will be unveiled on Nov. 18.

Off the Dribble

Shake Milton returned to the 76ers and had brought a winning streak with him. Before Monday’s loss to the Knicks, the Sixers were 6-0 since Milton came back from a sprained ankle he suffered during preseason. And they did that shorthanded as Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Isaiah Joe, and Matisse Thybulle missed time and entered NBA health and safety protocols.

As a result, Milton was thrust into the starting lineup, playing alongside Tyrese Maxey in the backcourt and averaging 11.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists before his team played the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night. “I feel like I’m getting a rhythm and getting my legs back underneath me,” Milton said. He’ll be counted on to stand tall as the Sixers work through a tough part of the schedule without two starters and two key reserves. For his part, Milton plans to bring a lot of “shake and bake.”

Next: The Sixers play the Toronto Raptors at 7 p.m. Thursday before taking off on a six-game West Coast road trip.

On the Fly

Flyers fans in … Egypt?

Despite being stationed over 5,000 miles away, one Pennsylvania National Guard Unit have found a slice of home in their beloved hockey team.

Donald Brashear will be one of many former Flyers in town this weekend ahead of the team’s Orange & Black alumni game and the former tough guy is keen to give back to the city where he spent four seasons.

Brashear will run a hockey clinic next weekend in West Philadelphia for kids from the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. The work of the foundation is something close to Brashear’s heart, with the former enforcer saying he wants to be someone kids can look to for inspiration.

Next: The Flyers host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at 7:30 at the Wells Fargo Center (NCSP).

Fleet Street

The generational wave of new United States women’s national team players has crashed the latest roster in a big way, giving eager fans a sneak peek at some of the talent fighting for a 2023 World Cup roster spot. What many of them may lack in international cap experience is more than compensated for by energy, creativity and sheer gumption on the field. Find out more.

Meanwhile, the U.S. men’s national team is on a train — led by the talent of Mexican-American striker Ricardo Pepi — hopefully bound for successful World Cup qualification.

Worth a look