While the 76ers are not into moral victories, the last time they faced Milwaukee, they came away feeling a little better about themselves despite a 112-101 loss at Fiserv Forum on Feb. 6.
Now the Sixers will be hoping for an actual victory, which won’t be easy when they visit the Bucks for an 8:30 p.m. game on Saturday.
To put it into context, that loss had been the Sixers’ fourth straight defeat, all of them on the road. The previous three games against Atlanta, Boston and Miami, were lost by a combined 62 points. They played much better against the Bucks.
In fact, the Sixers haven’t lost since that defeat in Milwaukee, winning four straight, all at home.
The Sixers have the NBA’s best home record (26-2), but they are just 9-19 on the road, having lost their last five away from the Wells Fargo Center.
Couple that with the fact that Milwaukee is 25-3 at home. Coming off a 126-106 win at Detroit on Thursday, Milwaukee has won 15 of its last 17 games. The Bucks’ 47-8 record is tied for the sixth-best start in NBA history through 55 games.
The Sixers are coming off Thursday’s 112-104 overtime win over Brooklyn, which was a game of wild swings. The Sixers led 22-6 and then found themselves trailing 50-30 before finally turning things around. Joel Embiid had a 39-point, 16-rebound effort in a game where Ben Simmons was sidelined with lower-back tightness.
Saturday’s game will be a measuring stick for the Sixers.
“It’s exciting because [the Bucks] are the gold standard of our league,” coach Brett Brown said. “We look forward to playing them with this kind of rotation that we’re trying to want to grow and learn more about.”
The rotation consists of forward-center Al Horford, now coming off the bench, and newcomers Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks, who were acquired from Golden State for three second-round picks in a trade deadline deal.
In his second game with the Sixers on Thursday, Burks scored 19 points and looked very much like the player who averaged 16.1 points this season for the Warriors.
12 Tobias Harris PF 6-9 19.1 ppg. 6.8 rpg.
40 Glenn Robinson III SF 6-6 12.5 ppg. 4.5 rpg.
21 Joel Embiid C 7-2 23.3 ppg. 12.0 rpg.
0 Josh Richardson SG 6-5 14.4 ppg. 3.2 apg.
25 Ben Simmons PG 6-10 16.9 ppg. 8.3 apg.
Coach: Brett Brown (seventh season, 213-335)
Injuries: Ben Simmons (lower back tightness) is probable.
22 Khris Middleton F 6-7 20.6 ppg. 6.2 rpg.
34 Giannis Antetokounmpo 6-11 30.0 ppg. 13.5 rpg.
11 Brook Lopez C 7-0 10.8 ppg. 4.4 rpg.
9 Wesley Matthews SG 6-4 7.5 ppg. 1.4 apg.
6 Eric Bledsoe PG 6-1 15.7 ppg. 5.4 apg.
Coach: Mike Budenholder (2nd season, 107-30; overall, 320-227)
Injuries: Kyle Korver (back soreness) is out.
The Bucks lead the series 110-102.
As mentioned, the Bucks won 112-101 in Milwaukee on Feb. 6. That avenged a 121-109 Christmas Day loss in Philadelphia. In the win over the Sixers, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points and a season-high 20 rebounds. He also had six assists. Tobias Harris had 25 points and seven rebounds for the Sixers. Milwaukee broke open a close game by going on a 14-0 third-quarter run. The Bucks led 86-74 entering the fourth quarter, one in which the Sixers would get to within five points at the midway point, but no closer.
Feb. 24: Atlanta Hawks at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV
Feb. 26: Sixers at Cleveland Cavaliers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Feb. 27: New York Knicks at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Mar. 1: Sixers at Los Angeles Clippers, 3:30 p.m. ABC