In their final contest before the All-Star break, the Bucks (26-25) ended their four game skid, defeating the Philadelphia Sixers 94-92 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Wednesday night. It was a crucial game for Milwaukee’s quest for the 8th seed and a playoff birth; with the victory the Bucks now hold a 4.0 game lead and the season tiebreaker over the 9th place Sixers.
It was another defensive nightmare of first half for the Bucks, who are clearly miss their interior defensive presence Larry Sanders. Sanders missed his fourth consecutive game with his ongoing back injury. Milwaukee seemed to have lacked a sense of urgency early on- perhaps related to the Brandon Jennings trade rumors swirling around the mill today. The Sixers rode a red-hot Nick Young early on and at one point held a 13-point lead in the 1st half. It was actually quite surprising Philly only had a seven-point halftime lead considering they shot 56% in the first two quarters to the Bucks’ 36%.
The Bucks gained their first lead of the game on a Monta Ellis jumper with 8:21 to play in the 4th quarter. Yes, the Sixers held the lead for the first 39:39 of the game. Without the effort on the Bucks showed on the defensive end in the second half, there’s no doubt they would have lost their fifth straight game.
“The Prince” Luc Richard Mbah A Moute ultimately saved the day for the Bucks. The Bucks held a 94-92 lead with :05 seconds to play and a jump ball on the Sixers’ side of the court. Philly’s Royal Ivey controlled the tip with seconds to go and tried to swing it across court to PG Jrue Holiday. Luc deciphered the telegraphed play wonderfully, tipped the pass, then lunged towards the sideline and kept the ball inbounds as time expired.
One thing I noticed from Monta Ellis this game was that he seemed to put an emphasis on getting to the hoop this particular game, and it worked very well for the Bucks’ offense. When opposing defenses have to respect Monta’s ability to take it to the rim, their big men have to pinch in towards the lane, opening up jumpers for players like Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova.
As we enter the All-Star break and the trade deadline gets closer and closer, you help but wonder; was this Brandon Jennings’, Monta Ellis’ or Samuel Dalembert’s last game in a Bucks uniform?