Impressive defensive trend continues as Milwaukee Bucks take down Philadelphia 76ers

Milwaukee Bucks v Philadelphia 76ers
Milwaukee Bucks v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Coming off a tremendous win against the Minnesota Timberwolves out of the NBA All-Star break, the Milwaukee Bucks aimed to keep the ball rolling against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Milwaukee and Philadelphia were dealing with injuries to key cogs - Khris Middleton for the Bucks and Joel Embiid for the 76ers - but the show had to continue. Obviously, no Embiid was a massive loss for the 76ers, but they still had a handful of players who could make them dangerous; the Bucks couldn't take this team lightly.

The Bucks essentially had control of the game from start to finish, with their biggest deficit coming in at just a single point early in the first quarter. As things went on, Milwaukee's lead grew to as large as 25 points on the afternoon. When the final buzzer sounded, Milwaukee's win streak extended to two games with a 119-98 victory.

Impressive defensive trend continues as Milwaukee Bucks take down Philadelphia 76ers

Despite their 5-7 record, Milwaukee's defense has been flowing more smoothly since Doc Rivers took over as coach. Need proof? Well, following this win, the Bucks have now held opponents to under 100 points in three of their last six matchups. They did that once under the previous regime, holding the Charlotte Hornets to 99 points back in November.

The team has bought in defensively under Rivers. They undoubtedly are not a juggernaut on that side of things quite yet, but they have finally started putting the pieces together. Again, Embiid did not play in this game, taking some air out of this impressive stat, but regardless, it's excellent to see the Bucks keep stringing together these strong outings defensively.

A big reason for Milwaukee's defensive excellence in this one was Brook Lopez, who had five blocked shots on the afternoon. That matched as many as the 76ers had as a team. He also added 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists to cap off a strong two-way performance.

Speaking of two-way play, Giannis Antetokounmpo had yet another MVP-caliber contest by posting 30 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and a block. The six turnovers were ugly, but he more than made up for it elsewhere. He continued what has been his most efficient season to date, shooting 10-of-17 from the floor, including 1-of-2 from deep, and 9-of-12 from the foul line. MVP stuff from Giannis.

Milwaukee's backcourt lit it up from long distance, combining to shoot 10-of-15. Damian Lillard had a near triple-double with 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to go along with two steals, while Malik Beasley had 20 points. These are two of the best long-range shooters in the NBA, and they put it on display against Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, the Bucks got a big boost from two key reserves in Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton. Portis tallied 17 points, five rebounds, two blocks, an assist and a steal, while Connaughton added seven points, five rebounds, two blocks and an assist. This is exactly the type of performance the Bucks need from these two veterans down the stretch after many rocky performances this season.

On the other side of the ball, the 76ers shot just 37.1 percent from the floor, with all but three players shooting under 43 percent from the floor. Tyrese Maxey led the way with 24 points but was one of the players under that 43 percent mark, shooting 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) as the Bucks hounded him on the defensive side of the floor.

Embiid or not, this was a nice win for the Bucks, who have now had back to back solid performances following the break. They now need to focus on consistently displaying these good habits whenever they step on the court.

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