PLAYER GRADES: Milwaukee Bucks 128, Philadelphia 76ers 122

Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers squared off in a primetime matchup against MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks ultimately prevailed in a chippy contest, which may serve as a playoff preview — one that we would all love to see.

Just minutes into the game, Joel Embiid and Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe found themselves in a shoving match. This led to Embiid throwing the basketball at Bledsoe, who retaliated with a fastball. Joel and Mike Scott received technicals while Bledsoe caught two technicals and the refs ultimately ejected him from the game.

From that moment on, the teams battled in a physical contest that combined sloppy play and aggressive defense. And by aggressive, that does not necessarily mean effective.

It appeared as if the Philadelphia 76ers were going to come away with their second consecutive victory over the conference-leading Bucks, but then the fourth quarter happened. The Sixers tallied 36 points in the fourth, which would be fine on a normal night, however the Bucks finished the quarter with an ambushing 46.

The Bucks had the hot hand down the stretch while the Sixers got cold. Guys like Sterling Brown and George Hill were carrying the load.

The Sixers played shorthanded as Jimmy Butler sat this one out with back soreness.

As far as the guys who played, some unexpected ones shined bright.

A-. <strong>30 mins | 29 pts | 2 reb | 3 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 0 TO | 10-15 FG | 5-9 3PT| 4-4 FT | 2 PF | -5 |</strong><p><a rel=. Shooting guard. Philadelphia 76ers. JJ REDICK

Philadelphia 76ers. MIKE SCOTT. A-. <strong>36 mins | 22 pts | 3 reb | 1 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 0 TO | 8-11 FG | 6-8 3PT| 0-0 FT | 5 PF | -13 |</strong><p>Mike Scott undoubtedly had his best game as a Sixer and it might have been the best game any player has had coming off the Sixers’ bench all year. Much like Redick, Scott was money from the perimeter and gave them much-needed floor spacing. Forget the plus-minus stat, Scott was brilliant.</p>. Power forward

C+. <strong>37 mins | 34 pts | 13 reb | 13 ast | 2 stl | 3 blk | 3 TO | 12-31 FG | 3-9 3PT| 7-10 FT | 3 PF | +/- 0 |</strong><p>When you are a superstar of this stature, you are held to a higher standard than the rest. Despite what the stats say, Embiid was not himself. Part of that was his nagging injury. But he was inefficient and did not come up clutch in the late minutes to counter the Bucks’ final push. Embiid knows that. Stats need context. Embiid was good, but the numbers are a bit misleading.</p>. Center. Philadelphia 76ers. JOEL EMBIID

C-. <strong>30 mins | 13 pts | 9 reb | 3 ast | 0 stl | 1 blk | 2 TO | 6-15 FG | 1-3 3PT| 0-0 FT | 5 PF | -12 |</strong><p>15 shots says that Harris did not lack aggression, he was just cold. Nine rebounds and three assists will do for a small/power forward, but he needs to add more to the scoreboard for the Sixers to be successful. Three behind-the-arc shots and zero free throw attempts will not cut it.</p>. Small forward. Philadelphia 76ers. TOBIAS HARRIS

D+. <strong>36 mins | 6 pts | 4 reb | 13 ast | 0 stl | 1 blk | 4 TO | 3-5 FG | 0-0 3PT| 0-0 FT | 3 PF | -7 |</strong><p>Sometimes, <a rel=. Point guard. Philadelphia 76ers. BEN SIMMONS

The Sixers have a huge problem with late-game execution. The offense loses traction and the defense seems to struggle staying on the same page. Perhaps things may have been different had Jimmy Butler been on the floor to keep things calm and collected while working his crunch-time magic.

Shoutout to Giannis Antetokounmpo who put up a performance that should seal the deal on this season’s MVP race. Giannis put up 45 points while shooting 13-22 from the field and 16-21 from the charity stripe. 13 rebounds and six assists are impressive, too. Antetokounmpo has eaten the Sixers alive in their last two contests.

The Sixers have lost three games in a row, albeit all with at least one starter out due to injury. They have a road game in Chicago on Saturday followed by a trip to South Beach. They will close the regular season out at home on Wednesday when the Bulls come to visit.

Where Embiid ranks among the NBA's top centers. dark. Next

They had their opportunities to lock up the third seed over this last week but could not capitalize. It will be interesting to see how many minutes coach Brett Brown gives to the banged up Butler and Embiid over these last three contests.