What to watch for as the Milwaukee Bucks host the Philadelphia 76ers on March 14

The Milwaukee Bucks take on the 76ers at home. Can the Bucks come back home and get some momentum back under head coach Doc Rivers?

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

The (42-24) Milwaukee Bucks take on the (36-29) Philadelphia 76ers at home in downtown Milwaukee on Thursday Night. This will be the last time these two teams play this season unless they meet again in the playoffs. (Which would be a good thing, per our past predictions here)

The Bucks beat the 76ers already on opening night (118-117). Then the Sixers lost again to the Bucks (119-98). That second win felt much more impressive than the first. It was a “homecoming game” of sorts for Doc Rivers, the former coach of the 76ers.

Khris Middleton is already listed as out and won’t play after there was initially some speculation that he may suit up.

Keys to a Milwaukee Bucks win

Controlling the glass “might” be a crucial

Philadelphia might just “yield” here. Against the Knicks in their most recent loss, they managed a measly 31 rebounds. Against a team whose starting center left with an ankle injury! That’s not good! And Philadelphia has struggled all year to rebound the basketball. 

Currently, Philadelphia is ranked 20th in the NBA in team rebounding. They average 42.8 rebounds a game. That’s also not very good.

Milwaukee has really improved lately when it comes to team rebounding. Even in their most recent loss to Sacramento, Milwaukee still grabbed 44 total rebounds. That is right at where they have been over the last ten games (44.8). If we compare that to the first ten games of the season (37 rebounds a game), this team has simply done a better job of controlling the glass.

If you can control the glass, you can control the tempo of the game. 

Score more in the fourth quarter

This recent west coast road trip was not kind to the Milwaukee Bucks' fourth quarter offense. 

In the most recent loss to Sacramento, Milwaukee only managed 16 points in the final quarter.

What was that fourth quarter about against the Warriors? Against Golden State, in a loss, Milwaukee only managed nine points in the final 12 minutes. This season, especially of late, Milwaukee had been the best scoring team in the NBA in the fourth quarter! Damian Lillard had a nice 3-pointer in the fourth, and Giannis Antetokounmpo hit a nice 18-footer, but the offense needed a lot more than that against a team like Golden State.

This game might come down to fourth quarter output. Lillard will need to attack the basket more, draw a couple of fouls and put in a couple of “cheap ones”. That really should be the only bump they need to play better in the fourth. 

The Opponent: The 76ers 

The Philadelphia 76ers are a team built around a star: Joel Embiid. Embiid is a beast. (35/11/5) But he’s out. If he does not return this season, Philadelphia’s championship hopes are slim to none.

Tyrese Maxey is having a good year (25/3/6). He is a spark-plug player and really can bring some energy and attack when needed. He is maturing into a true NBA star, and when he is paired with Embiid, they can really give NBA defenses fits.

Tobias Harris, the former Milwaukee Buck, has been playing a little better after a down season last year. Averaging around 17 points a game, the 31 year old is right at all of his career averages.

Kelly Oubre Jr. has been the player, not Harris, who has picked up the slack for this team. He plays a ton of minutes and can score. Oubre is an aggressive defender averaging about three fouls a game, which is high. He also has the most steals on the team.

Without Embiid, this team simply lacks height and an interior post presence. Mo Bamba has been starting of late. Yep, that Mo Bamba. 

Finally, this is a well-coached team. Nick Nurse may have been the coach Bucks ownership wanted, but Doc Rivers is the coach we got. Now, for this game, can the Bucks come back home and get some momentum back under Rivers? It is possible.

Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game

  • What is a 76er? The Philadelphia 76ers name originates from the year 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.
  • The 76ers franchise originally began as the Syracuse Nationals in 1946.
  • What is a “sixer”? Along with the year the 1776 and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, when you take six beers and place them in a corrugated cardboard apparatus, you have a “sixer.”