5 Eastern Conference teams that should scare the Sixers

James Harden, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
James Harden, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Why the Milwaukee Bucks should scare the Sixers

Let’s start with the obvious part: Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s the best player in the NBA right now and he alone makes Milwaukee a singularly challenging foe. In Joel Embiid and P.J. Tucker, the Sixers have multiple defenders who can match Giannis’ physicality to some extent. It hardly feels like it matters. Giannis is going to muscle his way to points regardless of who’s in front of him.

Then there’s the matter of Brook Lopez, one of the true “post defenders” left in the NBA who can legitimately neutralize Embiid. We saw it in the Sixers’ loss to Milwaukee last week. Lopez is aging but he still has ample strength and cleverness. If Philly can’t effectively weaponize Embiid’s speed advantage in space, Lopez will make Embiid fight extremely hard for his points.

Then, we arrive at Jrue Holiday. He might be the single best bet to neutralize James Harden for 4-7 games in the entire NBA. There’s no definitively better perimeter defender in the league, especially in the playoffs. Once he’s locked in, Holiday is practically an immovable object on the perimeter. His core strength, carnivorous wingspan, and preternatural instincts will provide Harden with unrelenting resistance.

So, yes, the Bucks are quite dangerous. All that without even mentioning Khris Middleton, a top-25 player and elite wing scorer who’s not even playing for the 5-0 Bucks right now. Milwaukee is really old on the margins and it’s fair to be concerned about the depth chart at large, but the Bucks should probably be favorites in the East right now if you’re a betting man.