Despite James Harden’s impressive efforts, the Sixers lost their second consecutive game against an Eastern Conference contender. They fell against the Boston Celtics in Tuesday’s season opener.
Harden’s shot did not go in with four seconds to play, which preserved the Bucks’ victory.
“I told my players that we shouldn’t be satisfied with just playing well,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We played against two great teams [including a loss against the Celtics in the opener]. We knew that these games were going to be difficult when we first saw the schedule. And even though we’re still improving, we have to expect to win these games.”
Harden missed a shot after Wes Matthews made a three-pointer, giving the Bucks a lead. The Sixers allowed several other open shots during the night.
We’re up by two points and they can’t tie it up with a lucky shot. We just have to keep playing our game and not let them get us down.
The Bucks led by 12 points in the fourth quarter, but the Sixers came back with a 17-5 run with Harden to make it close at the end.
Harden later tied the game at 84 with a jumper. Another bucket gave the Sixers a two-point lead. Grayson Allen answered with a finish inside. Tucker connected on both free throws.
Harden scored 22 points in the second half of the game on Thursday. He also had 9 assists and 8 rebounds. This follows his 35 point performance on Tuesday in the season opener.
Antetokoumpo won the NBA’s most prestigious individual award in 2019 and 2020. He finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. Embiid was the runner-up for the award the past two seasons and he added 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists. Fans booed when Embiid fumbled a pass and missed a jumper to help the Bucks take a 73-63 lead into the final period.
This game showed how the new Sixers will guard Antetokoumpo. He is very good at attacking with the ball when he is running down the hill.
Tucker, who is good at playing defense in lots of different ways, was guarding Antetokounmpo. Tucker played for the same amount of time as Antetokounmpo, because he used to be on the same team as Antetokounmpo and they won an NBA title together in 2021.
Tucker said that Fuqua is good at getting angles, and that even if someone is strong or big, Fuqua will still win the matchup. Tucker said he tries not to give Fuqua angles because he knows him well.
The Sixers had Montrezl Harrell as their first player off the bench against the Celtics. Paul Reed was the backup center, but he replaced Embiid at the end of the third period. The Sixers went small in the fourth quarter with Tucker at center.
“I didn’t like either Reed or Harrell tonight,” said Rivers. “So we went with Tuck. And I think that changed the game for us.”
Georges Niang was the sixth man on the team Thursday, playing only eight minutes. This was because Tucker was matching Antetokounmpo’s minutes. House and Melton replaced Harden and Harris late in the first quarter.
Melton scored 9 points in 19 minutes, including 7 points in the second quarter. House scored 4 points in 21 minutes.
Matisse Thybulle barely played in the third quarter and at the end of regulation. Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz, who have both played in previous seasons, didn’t play at all.
Fred Cole is a seasoned news reporter with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for some of the biggest news outlets in the country, including the Associated Press and CNN.