The 76ers were determined to continue their winning ways without injured franchise player, Joel Embiid. And the Milwaukee Bucks were focused on getting their franchise player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, more help.
So what was the outcome of Wednesday night’s much-anticipated matchup?
The Sixers suffered a 109-105 overtime loss after the Bucks parted ways with D.J. Augustin, D.J .Wilson, and Torrey Craig in separate trades during the day.
Philly blew a commanding 19-point lead and trailed by seven points with 52.8 seconds remaining in regulation. Furkan Korkmaz forced overtime with a corner three-pointer with 0.4 seconds left. In overtime, Ben Simmons pulled the Sixers within two points, on a three-pointer with 0.9 left in overtime.
However, former Villanova standout Donte DiVincenzo clinched the game with a pair of foul shots with 0.1 seconds remaining.
Sixers shooting guard Seth Curry left the game with 7 minutes, 23 seconds left in regulation with a left ankle sprain and didn’t return after limping to the locker room.
The Sixers struggled in the half court, shooting just 39.4 %. They only attempted eight foul shots, making five of them for 62.5 %.
“My eyes tell me we missed a lot of wide-open shots,” Doc Rivers said. “Tobias [Harris] had great shots. Furk [Kormaz] had great shots. I thought the effect of last night’s game absolutely played a play.
“I thought their defense was good. It was another back-to-back game of 1989 basketball, which was physical, tough.”
The Sixers defeated the New York Knicks, 99-96, on Tuesday. The effort from that game did appear to have an impact on the Sixers, who wore down in the second half.
But, because of the trades, the Bucks played with just nine players.
Milwaukee is shipping Augustin, Wilson and its 2022 first-round pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for P.J. Tucker and Rodions Kurucs. Craig will go to the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix reportedly isn’t sending a player back.
“Any time there’s a little bit of uncertainty or a disruption to your normal flow, lot of credit to the players for keeping their focus,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We didn’t play well in the first half. But to have the toughness, mentally, physically to come back and win it is a credit to our players.”
Tucker was the headliner of the Bucks’ moves. The team was determined to add the forward with the hope of making a deep postseason push.
Right now, the Sixers are the Eastern Conference’s top team with a 28-13 record. The Brooklyn Nets are in second place with the same record with the Sixers holding the tiebreaker. The Nets beat Indiana Pacers, 124-115, Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Milwaukee (26-14) is in third place.
Things could get interesting when the Bucks hosts the Sixers in a two-game series in Milwaukee on April 22 and 24.
Antetokounmpo made a 19-footer to put the Bucks ahead, 105-98, with 1:12 remaining overtime. Rivers then called timeout. Antetokounmpo ran to the Sixers’ end of the court and took a seat on the floor, as a way of taunting the home team.
“I wanted to go Stone Cold Stunner him,” Dwight Howard said, “but I already had one tech. You know, it’s basketball. He wants to have fun. But we’ll see these guys, again. We don’t want to make a big scene about what he did ...”
On Wednesday, Tobias Harris had 19 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Ben Simmons added 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Danny Green had 18 points while Dwight Howard added 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Antetokounmpo had 32 points, including 10 in overtime, 14 rebounds, and five assists. DiVincenzo had 20 points and eight rebounds.
ESPN reported that the Bucks struck their deal with the Rockets Wednesday afternoon after being persistent in their pursuit of Tucker for weeks.
But, right before the game, Wilson was still on the court with the Bucks. Then, one of the Bucks sprinted from the visitors’ locker room to the court where his teammates were in the layup line. He said something to DiVincenzo and another Milwaukee player before Antetokounmpo joined the group. They all embraced the player, who went on to hug teammates, coaches, and staff members before heading back to the locker room.
Moments later, ESPN reported the trade.