Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 52 points, to go along with 16 rebounds and seven assists Sunday, and said he has a much easier time going up against Ben Simmons compared to his fellow All-Star teammate Joel Embiid.
Embiid’s 40 points and 15 rebounds led the visiting Sixers past Milwaukee 130-125.
Philadelphia considers it a “statement” win against the NBA-leading Bucks.
“There’s a lot that went into the game,” Joel Embiid said. “The last time we were here, they beat us pretty bad. They’re the best in the NBA right now as far as record goes. Number one in our conference and I felt like we had to make a statement.”
The victory definitely put teams on notice. It also enabled the Sixers (45-25) to clinch a playoff berth with 12 games remaining.
“We’re here to compete,” said Simmons, regarding what the victory revealed about the new-look Sixers. “We can compete with the best. I think [general manager Elton Brand] has done a great job of putting us all together. Obviously, coach [Brett] Brown and the coaching staff are going a good job. It’s fun.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with a career-high 52 points, scoring 35 of the Bucks’ 72 points in the second half. The three-time All-Star yelled an expletive at Simmons after dunking on him and staring him down the Sixers with 1 minute, 18 seconds left in the game. After being fouled on the play, Antetokounmpo yelled that Simmons is “a baby, a [freaking] baby.”
“It’s easy,” he said. “I’d rather have Ben guard me than Joel, it’s simple. If Joel is guarding me all night, everything is so tough for you. But when someone else switches, whether it’s Jimmy [Butler] or Ben or [Mike] Scott or [Boban] Marjanovic, it’s way easier and you just try to seize the opportunity and make a play.”