Sunday, April 14 2024
Feb 25, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers looks on during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Doc Rivers hasn’t gotten off to the best start as the Milwaukee Bucks’ midseason head coach replacement, but Sunday was a good day.

He and the Bucks traveled to Philly to face the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that fired him at the end of the 2022-23 season, for the first time since he was hired by the Bucks in January. Rivers went in with a painful 4-7 record as Bucks head coach, but emerged with a definitely-less-painful 5-7 after the Bucks stuffed the Sixers 119-98.

The game didn’t look like it would be a non-competitive blowout from the start. The Bucks and Sixers remained competitive until halfway through the first quarter. With 6:26 left the Sixers took a 17-16 lead, which would end up being their last lead of the entire game. The Bucks took over from that point, doubling their score by the end of the quarter, while the Sixers managed to score just four points over the final six and a half minutes.

The Sixers saw a little more success in the second quarter, but it looked like the game was pretty much over by midway through the third quarter, with the Bucks were easily defending a 20-point lead. But the Sixers finally woke up with 5-6 minutes left in the quarter. They drained some consequential threes, including a pair of jumpers from D’Anthony Melton, and took advantage of the Bucks’ hot shooting finally cooling off. The third quarter began with the Sixers down by 21, and ended with them down by just 13 — within striking distance.

But “within striking distance” is as close as they’d get. The Bucks got hot again in the fourth quarter, while the Sixers crippled themselves with sloppy play and big misses. They needed to get the deficit to single digits, but instead it went the other way, ballooning to 25 with under four minutes left.

The Bucks looked more than solid against the Sixers — they looked calm, comfortable, and complete. They sent a barrage of threes toward Philly, which Philly was mostly helpless to defend without their star Joel Embiid (who is recovering from a knee injury), and were accurate to boot. After a rocky start with Doc, the Bucks are rounding into form. The Sixers, meanwhile, are pinning their hopes on Embiid making a late-season return, and trying not to lose too much ground until that happens.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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