The Wizard of Aus meets the Greek Freak

The Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks play for seeding in the season’s final game.

To borrow the words of Apollo Creed in the original Rocky movie, “Sounds like a damn monster movie!”

Tonight’s matchup, and regular season finale, between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks, is a doozy.  It features two of the best young players in the NBA: Ben Simmons, the 6-10 Australian prodigy who’s passing wizardry hasn’t been seen in a point guard of his size since the days of Magic Johnson, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 6-11 Greek ‘Freak’ who plays forward but handles the ball like a highly skilled wingman and is an electrifying scorer.

Playoff implications are huge.  The Sixers, at 51-30, have just reeled off 15 consecutive wins and are currently the third seed in the East.  The Bucks, at 44-37, have won seven of ten and are currently the sixth seed in the East.  If the playoffs started today, these two would face each other in round one.

In the regular season series thus far, Milwaukee holds a 2-1 edge, with the Bucks winning the most recent game 118-110 on Mar. 4 in Milwaukee.  In that game, Antetokounmpo scorched the Sixers for 35 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Simmons had 12 points, five rebounds and 15 assists.  Joel Embiid played in that game.  Tonight they’ll be without Embiid, who’s missed seven straight after injuring his left orbital bone on Mar. 28.  The Sixers are 7-0 since he went down.  Dario Saric, who broke a tooth and cut his lip in last night’s game, is probable.  They’ll need him.

Antetokounmpo is a force to be reckoned with.  He’s improved every year since entering the league in 2013.  This year, he’s averaging 27 points, 10 rebounds and nearly five assists per game.  Simmons meanwhile, in his rookie campaign, has been almost equally as impressive, posting 16 points, eight assists and eight rebounds per game.  All while being the team’s floor general and holding down the fort until Embiid returns.

For the Sixers to win their 16th in a row, they’ll need the supporting cast to come through again.  J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova all must be sharp from the perimeter.  And the big men filling in for Embiid, Amir Johnson and Richaun Holmes must protect the rim and clean the glass.  Or The Freak will prevail again.

The Wizard vs. The Freak at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Get your popcorn ready!

 

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