PHILADELPHIA — As they go through their toughest stretch of the season, it seems as if the Philadelphia 76ers are showing more toughness as a team than at any point in the season, and their standing in the Eastern Conference is quickly becoming a reflection of it.
Their latest impressive outing came on Saturday night, as the Sixers scored 37 points in the first quarter on their way to a 116-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, a victory which sees the team now inside of the top eight of the Eastern Conference standings.
Along with their strong start, the Sixers closed the game by holding the Bucks to just 14 points in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“I think it’s a real snapshot as to who we are,” said Sixers head coach Brett Brown. “You have some solid periods where you guard and don’t turn it over, then you blink and you have 11 turnovers in the third period and then you regroup and hold them to 14 points in the fourth period. We had a lead, they got it back to two, we ballooned out. That’s this group, and if any of us are trying to make it immediately more than it is that’s just not the reality of this group we have.”
Sounds like the typical ups and downs of coaching a young team. According to Brown, that’s exactly the case.
“They’re young, they’re kind of wild, we’re trying to tame them as much as we can,” Brown said. “But it’s also part of the passion and the thing that makes them good and so the takeaways are the snapshot of how erratic and fun and sometimes good, sometimes painful this young team is.”
Right now, the young Sixers have not been daunted by the tough schedule that they’re currently embarking on, going 8-2 in their last 10 games and has seen the team defeat the likes of the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors at home, and the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets on the road.
“I think everybody’s just got healthier, I got healthier and we started to play more together,” said Sixers center Joel Embiid, who had a game-high 29 points to go along with nine rebounds. “I’ve been able to practice every day and be in shoot-arounds without any break. I think other guys have been pretty healthy, we miss JJ [Redick] still but I think we’ve been healthier and playing together.”
It helped the Sixers tonight that the Bucks were playing shorthanded, as All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the game due to right knee soreness and Malcolm Brogdon due to personal reasons.
“I thought the guys played as hard as they could,” said Bucks head coach Jason Kidd. “We were shorthanded and the guys went out there and said, ‘Hey, look, we can find a way to win this game,’ and they played hard, just getting turnovers hurt us starting the fourth quarter.”