The Sixers (33-23) hosted the Milwaukee Bucks (36-21) on Sunday. Philadelphia wanted to build on Friday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Milwaukee wanted to build on Friday's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Sixers lacked patience and approach on offense in a blowout loss at the hands of the Bucks, 119-98.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Bucks were without the services of Khris Middleton, who has a sprained left ankle.

Chris Livingston is not with the Bucks and was not available.

Ryan Rollins and TyTy Washington Jr. are on two-way assignments with Milwaukee's G League affiliate and were out.

Doc Rivers started Damian Lillard, Malik Beasley, Jae Crowder, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez.

The Sixers were without the services of Joel Embiid, who is recovering from a procedure on the meniscus in his left knee.

Robert Covington remained out with a bone bruise in his left knee. KJ Martin missed the game with a right ankle impingement.

Kenny Lofton Jr. and Terq Smith are on two-way G League assignments with the Delaware Blue Coats and were not available.

Nick Nurse started Tyrese Maxey, Buddy Hield, Nico Batum, Tobias Harris, and Paul Reed.


- Reed gets the only applause of the first half. He was all over the floor on both ends for his team, fighting for loose balls and securing the defensive glass to make sure the few Bucks possessions that didn't end with a made three actually ended at all.

Reed didn't give up on plays when the ball was out of reach, either. He pursued the ball until the very end, trying to reach in and jar it loose to force Milwaukee to recover at times when they were running down the floor for transition offense. He wasn't above putting his body on the floor for 50/50 balls, either. A really good first half of hustle from him.

I also thought the first half was one of the better instances of Reed playing with control on offense. Lopez can be extremely intimidating in the paint, but Reed went straight at him and didn't lose his footing at all. He planted well at the basket and pivoted when Lopez was off balance to finish at the rim. Save that film in the archives for future reference.

- The second best thing to happen on the Sixers' side in the first half was a contingent of fans yelling "SAME TEAM" when Harris and Reed both went for the same defensive rebound. A real group effort in this one. And, yes, I would say Philadelphia's effort wasn't noticeably questionable. It was the thought processes that hurt them. Work smart, not hard, they say.


- As I said above, I don't think effort would be fair to criticize in this game. It was the approach that was horrendous. The only Bucks starters who are legitimately good defenders are Lopez and Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo is a far better help defender than he is a ball defender. Lopez has good moments defending on the perimeter, but the Bucks are at their best when he's in drop coverage.

So, that leaves Lillard, Beasley, and Crowder defending the perimeter. Lillard is simply horrible on defense. Beasley has moments but isn't a reputed positive defensive player. Crowder hasn't been healthy for most of this season and is in his mid-30s. I don't know about you guys, but, to me, that seems like three pretty appetizing options to attack downhill.

Yet, there was no concerted attempt to hunt those matchups. All of the movement was side to side. That's fine when you have the defense in rotation. But, it's unproductive when you're not creating rim pressure. That was a problem throughout the first quarter specifically because the Sixers found themselves taking more threes than twos. The threes weren't falling, and the offense thus stalled out without any real attempt at manufacturing twos. A double-digit deficit because they didn't give themselves a chance on offense.

- In no way is this meant to be an indictment on the game Reed had. He did all he could. The problem was that his teammates inexplicably asked him to do more than he's ever proven capable of doing. The ball ended up in his hands - in space - on far too many possessions in the first half. The Sixers didn't treat him as the safety valve guy to beat intense pressure on the perimeter. Rather, they treated him as the go-to creator when the first couple of options didn't materialize.

The difference is, well, a canyon. The release valve guy is catching and attacking to put pressure on the rim in hopes of getting a free dunk or kicking to the open teammate when the defender lifts to stop the ball. The go-to creator is reading the floor and making decisions in real time. Reed simply cannot be put in that position. Frankly, it isn't like the Bucks are so good at denying penetration that the Sixers just ran out of options. They simply didn't squeeze all the juice out of their possessions.

- Another ugly game for Harris, whose confidence looks absolutely shattered right now. Second game in a row in which he couldn't make a clean inbound pass, forcing a teammate to replace him as the passer. But, the most damning message of all was that Milwaukee fronted Harris in the post with Lillard and his teammates didn't even attempt to capitalize on that look once. Now, who knows whether it's a matter of those guys losing faith in Harris or generally not being comfortable with making that pass over the top. The sad state of affairs is that either scenario is entirely possible.

The Sixers (33-24) will visit the Boston Celtics (45-12) on Tuesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the action on TNT.

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Gallery Credit: Josh Hennig

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