3 keys in the Milwaukee Bucks high-profile matchup vs Philadelphia 76ers

Apr 22, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)
Apr 22, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – FEBRUARY 22: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

What an odd start to this six-game homestand it has been for the Milwaukee Bucks. A brutal loss to the Portland Trail Blazers and then Giannis Antetokounmpo grabbed the team by the scruff of its neck and dragged them to a win.

Someone who knows all about dragging his team to victories this season is Joel Embiid and his band of merry men known by most as the Philadelphia 76ers, who will be the Bucks opponent tonight.

This is the second meeting between the teams this season and if you forgot about the first one, I don’t blame you. It was back in November when the Bucks were banged up while Embiid and Tobias Harris didn’t play for the Sixers. The Bucks did win that game, have gone 8-2 against their East rivals, and have won the last six.

It hasn’t been much of a rivalry lately, huh?

Containing Joel Embiid is always a priority against the Philadelphia 76ers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and even then, you still probably heard about this), the Sixers swung a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline to acquire noted Giannis-hater James Harden and old man Paul Millsap from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond.

You can have your thoughts on this deal, but what Philly received from Brooklyn won’t have an impact in tonight’s game. Well, unless Millsap turns back the clock, but that’s unlikely.

Embiid won’t have his new co-star until after the All-Star break and is once again going to have to do pretty much everything for the Sixers, as he has all season.

One of the leading MVP candidates, Embiid is having arguably a better season than last year when he was runner-up for the award. He’s averaging 29.3 points on 60.6 percent true shooting, 11.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks in 32.8 minutes a night. All of those numbers (except true shooting and steals) are better than what he posted last season.

He truly has been a force at both ends of the floor, but how can the Bucks limit his impact? Well, not having Brook Lopez hurts but this makes the Serge Ibaka acquisition much more timely.

You shouldn’t expect to see Ibaka dominate Embiid or shut him down, but having a big body to throw at him will help. It will be interesting to see how head coach Mike Budenholzer handles the starting lineup against Embiid. He has the size and strength advantage over Bobby Portis, while Antetokounmpo isn’t an ideal matchup either.

No one has really been able to shut down Embiid this season, but the Bucks will give it their best shot.