Philadelphia 76ers vs Milwaukee Bucks : Lineups, preview & prediction 3/4/18

The impressive Sixers have their sights set on another win as they face a struggling Bucks team that’s lost four in a row.

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Is everyone sure the Philadelphia 76ers (34-27) even need LeBron James? Amid rumors linking King James to Philly in the summer, the Sixers just keep rolling along. After handily beating James and his Cavs in Cleveland, they then took care of the previously streaking Charlotte Hornets, 110-99. Philly have now gone 9-2 in their last 11 games.

The Sixers had a balanced attack offensively as five players finished with 15 or more points against the Hornets. Joel Embiid had another terrific night with 23 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks, while Ben Simmons added his customary line of 15 points, eight boards, and seven assists. Ersan Ilyasova also made quite an impact in his first home game back in Philly as he went off for 18 points off the bench.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks (33-29) are trending in the wrong direction. They have now lost four games in a row following a 103-96 defeat to the Indiana Pacers and their fourth in a row at home. Khris Middleton came up big with 30 points on 11-of-21 shooting. However, just about every other Bucks player shot poorly from the field.

Giannis Antetokounmpo continued his recent shooting funk as he went just 6-of-18 from the field, although he went to the line 12 times and scored 24 points. The starting backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Jason Terry combined to go just 5-of-19 as the Bucks shot a mere 38 percent from the field.

Three keys to the game

The Process – Embiid has picked up right where he left off since the All-Star break. The big man is putting up 24.3 points on 50 percent shooting with 12.3 rebounds over his last six games. Embiid was pretty much unstoppable in his lone meeting with Milwaukee this season as he went for 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting. The Bucks still have no answers for him at the big man position, so he could be poised for another big night.

Greek Freak revival – Unlike Embiid, Giannis has been off his game recently. Since returning from the break, the Greek Freak is averaging a mere 20.8 points on 41 percent shooting. That’s not good enough for the Bucks, who need the Giannis that dropped 31 points, 18 rebounds, and six assists in his most recent meeting against the Sixers.

Dario Saric – After going on a terrific three-week stretch heading into the break, Saric has not quite been the same since returning. He’s averaging just 14 points on 39 percent shooting over his last five games. If he can rediscover his shooting touch and provide another scoring threat against the Bucks, he’d make the Sixers even more formidable.

Matchup to watch

Ben Simmons vs Eric Bledsoe – Bledsoe just came off hands down his best month of the year. He averaged over 19 points and six assists while shooting 53 percent from the field, 44 percent from beyond the arc, and 95 percent from the line. He must provide that impact offensively for the Bucks to be successful. He’ll also need to do his best to disrupt Ben Simmons’ rhythm, which will be much easier said than done.

76ers projected starting lineup

PG – Ben Simmons | SG – J. J. Redick | SF – Robert Covington | PF – Dario Saric | C – Joel Embiid

Bucks projected starting lineup

PG – Eric Bledsoe | SG – Tony Snell | SF – Khris Middleton | PF – Giannis Antetokounmpo | C – John Henson

Fantasy tip

Simmons has been remarkably consistent fantasy-wise over the last few weeks. He’s averaging 16.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.0 block in his last ten games, and is putting up 16 points, seven boards, and seven assists in his first two meetings against the Bucks.

As for the Bucks, Khris Middleton has absolutely shredded the Sixers this season. He’s played one game each without Giannis and Bledsoe, but his numbers of 21.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.5 steals remain impressive.

Betting tip

It’s hard to bet against the Sixers given how well they’ve been playing lately. Milwaukee have been very unreliable at home, going just 9-19 ATS at the Bradley Center. With their confidence sky-high, the Sixers should have more than enough to cover the one-point spread as road favorites.

Prediction

The Sixers up their winning streak to three games as they knock off the Bucks, 106-99.

TV info

This game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm Eastern.

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