Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers
When: 2:30 PM ET, Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Special to Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
PHILADELPHIA – The Milwaukee Bucks own the best record in the NBA and are not having any problem knocking off the other top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks will try to cruise past another East foe when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on in a Christmas Day showcase.
Milwaukee won 21 of its last 22 games, including a 117-89 demolition of the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, and is looking forward to a defensive battle with the bigger 76ers. “It’s going to be a great game, it’s going to be so much fun,” Bucks center Brook Lopez told reporters. “People are going to get beat up, complain about fouls, whatever. I don’t know what’s going to go on. But we obviously, I think everyone’s excited and up for this game. It’s an easy one to get up for – it’s on Christmas Day. It’s going to be a great game for us.”
The 76ers pulled out of a funk that saw them drop three in a row by cruising to easy wins over Washington and Detroit in the last two contests, scoring 125 points in each victory. “We’re getting a better feel for (playing against zone defense), better things we know will work, some better sets, and a little bit more movement towards it,” Philadelphia forward Tobias Harris told reporters. “Also, we’re making more shots against the zone when teams present. That’s a good formula to get yourself out of it.”
TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE BUCKS (27-4): Milwaukee hasn’t lost to an Eastern Conference foe since falling at Boston on Oct. 30 and locked up the Pacers on Sunday, holding them to 34 points in the second half and 37 percent shooting for the game. “It’s just important that we keep doing what we do best and that’s playing defense,” Lopez, who recorded two of the team’s nine blocks in the win, told reporters. “We did that for the majority of the game. We kept grinding and we finally got to the point, I think mid-third and then late fourth, where we kind of blew it open.” Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo collected 18 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists on Sunday and is averaging 31 points, 12.9 boards and 5.6 assists.
ABOUT THE 76ERS (22-10): Philadelphia’s three-game slide featured teams playing zone defense and relying on the 76ers to miss shots, and the team found a formula to defeat that with point guard Ben Simmons crashing the lane and collapsing defenses. Simmons finished with 16 points, a career-high 17 assists and 13 rebounds in Monday’s 125-109 win at Detroit to record his 24th career triple-double. “Just trying to be a force downhill,” Simmons explained to reporters. “Trying to find open guys when they’re open.”
- Bucks SG Wesley Matthews is averaging 16 points over the last two games after being held to single digits in each of the previous eight contests.
- 76ers SG Matisse Thybulle (knee sprain) sat out Monday and is expected to be sidelined two-to-four weeks.
- Antetokounmpo averaged 43 points and 15.7 rebounds in three games against Philadelphia last season – winning two.
PREDICTION: Bucks 128, 76ers 120