GRADES: Sixers succumb to fatigue in loss to Bucks

Georges Niang, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Georges Niang, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Sixers fall to the Milwaukee Bucks as they drop two in a row with the injuries and illnesses piling up.

In the second leg of a back-to-back, down four starters, Philadelphia held their own for much of the game as they pushed the reigning NBA champions deep into the fourth quarter.

Milwaukee themselves are coping with injuries as likely starter Donte DiVincenzo is out and opening day starters Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton remain sidelined. Milwaukee was not on the second of a back-to-back, but also out of rhythm coming from their trip to the White House to see President Joe Biden.

As for the game itself, both teams came out firing. The squads combined for 69 points with Philadelphia taking the quarter 39-30 behind 17 points from Tyrese Maxey on only nine shots.

The second quarter was less glamorous for Philadelphia as they struggled to find rhythm on the offensive end. Semi Ojeleye was a +19 in the quarter alone while Philadelphia was held to 26 percent from the field and 23 percent from 3-point range.

Entering the halftime locker rooms, Philadelphia trailed Milwaukee 61-59.

Philadelphia righted the ship in the third quarter as they looked much more like the team that opened the game. A diverse attack saw no player have more than two assists with only Furkan Korkmaz shooting below 50 percent in the quarter. Giannis Antetokounmpo made his way to the hoop without Embiid there to close him off.

Despite his points in the paint, Philadelphia entered the fourth quarter leading 93-91.

The fourth quarter was reminiscent of the second and embodied the fatigue associated with a very short-staffed team on no rest. Antetokounmpo put his stamp on the game in closing time and Grayson Allen shot the ball well. Philadelphia on the other hand shot 20 percent from the field and 1-12 from 3-point range, including Korkmaz being held to 0-5.

Andre Drummond was smothering rebounds but couldn’t keep Antetokounmpo from taking over. By the end, Milwaukee took the quarter and ultimately the game, 118-109.

Grades from Sixers’ 118-109 loss to Milwaukee Bucks

  • Tyrese Maxey: A+

39 mins | 31 pts | 5 reb | 4 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 0 TO | 12-24 FG | 4-9 3PT| 3-3 FT | 2 PF | -8 |

Maxey has been on an absolute tear of making the right decisions. Over 80 minutes in his last two games with zero turnovers. Beyond that, he led Philadelphia every step of the way on offense. This stretch with nearly $110 million in salary cap out for illness will be tough to weather but would be much more difficult without the stellar efforts of Maxey.

  • Andre Drummond: A

33 mins | 17 pts | 20 reb | 3 ast | 1 stl | 2 blk | 3 TO | 8-13 FG | 0-0 3PT| 1-2 FT | 3 PF | -12 |

Drummond articulated that being one of the stoutest rebounders in the league was crucial to him. He has been just that. 17 points, 20 rebounds, on only 13 shots is tremendous production from a backup center. Drummond remains a more active defender than necessarily effective one, but his production is far and away better than any from the reserve 5 that Philadelphia has had during the Joel Embiid era.

  • Georges Niang: B+

24 mins | 21 pts | 2 reb | 1 ast | 2 stl | 0 blk | 1 TO | 7-14 FG | 5-7 3PT| 2-2 FT | 6 PF | -5 |

Georges Niang should be viewed as one of the most successful pickups of the offseason. Only avid fans were aware of his game in the NBA. One would mostly have to go back to his days at Iowa State to see this level of creation and competence with the ball. Strong shooting has been clear, but it’s the closeouts that have helped separate and flash his talents thus far.

  • Shake Milton: B

42 mins | 20 pts | 4 reb | 6 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 1 TO | 7-16 FG | 1-4 3PT| 5-5 FT | 3 PF | -13 |

Milton profiles as a microwave scorer who has shouldered a higher burden with the number of players shelved for Philadelphia. Nights like tonight provide glimpses into his effectiveness beyond scoring. Milton tallied six assists against only one turnover. He wasn’t perfect, but the team is showing its depth and reminding everyone why adding talent at every step can be a great call.

  • Furkan Korkmaz: F

45 mins | 5 pts | 5 reb | 5 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 0 TO | 2-18 FG | 1-12 3PT| 0-0 FT | 1 PF | -11 |

Korkmaz has been excellent for Philadelphia. His contract already profiles as an absolute steal in this league. Just not tonight. Players have rough games and then on very rare occasions have this type of shooting performance. He needed to be mentioned in the player grades, but Korkmaz would be best off burning the tape and looking to drain his shots in the next game.

As for the next game, Milwaukee will be coming to New York City to face the Knicks for their own back-to-back while Philadelphia will stay at home and face the tenacious defense of the Toronto Raptors.

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