The Philadelphia 76ers handled the first-place Milwaukee Bucks at the Wells Fargo Center on this Christmas Day showdown.
Behind a monster double-double from Joel Embiid and a historic 3-point shooting performance as a team, the 76ers had no trouble defeating the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had an off-game and although Khris Middleton dropped 31 points, Milwaukee couldn't overcome a quiet night from their MVP.
For more on this statement win for the 76ers, we have you covered with takeaways below.
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Embiid controls the game
From the get-go, Joel Embiid played with a purpose in this contest.
He scored a season-high 23 points in the first half, setting the tone for his team to get out to a controlling 21-point lead, but his defence on Giannis Antetokounmpo was equally as impressive.
This performance continued throughout the entire game on both ends of the floor, leading Philadelphia to their most important win of the season.
Embiid was a force in the paint on the offensive end but also knocked down his perimeter jumpers. He finished with a double-double of 31 points and 11 rebounds to go with three assists and two blocks. He shot 11-for-21 (52.4%) from the field and 3-for-6 (50.0%) from 3-point range, scoring efficiently while keeping Milwaukee's best player from doing the same.
😤 @JoelEmbiid's double-double of 31 PTS, 11 REB propels the @sixers past MIL in Philadelphia! #NBAXmas #PhilaUnite pic.twitter.com/W1z889AOUh- NBA (@NBA) December 25, 2019
When Embiid plays with this type of attitude, energy and emotion, the 76ers are tough to beat.
Antetokounmpo's silent night
This was not Giannis Antetokounmpo's best showing.
Joel Embiid played off Antetokounmpo from the start of the game, defending his drive while getting physical when he entered the paint. Though Giannis has improved his 3-point jumper as of late, he couldn't get it to fall in this one which benefited Embiid's defensive approach.
Antetokounmpo went 0-for-7 from three, but it wasn't just his outside jumpshot that wasn't dropping. The Greek Freak uncharacteristically could not get anything going around the hoop either, leading to an 8-for-27 (29.6%) shooting performance.
His 19 missed field goals were the most he's ever missed in a single game in his career. It was clear his frustration was starting to set in, as he was given a technical foul after arguing a foul call late in the game. He went to the bench as his team made a late push and never returned to the game.
He finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists and although that's a solid outing for more than half of the NBA, that's an underwhelming performance from the league's most dominant player.
76ers 3-point shooting
The 76ers are not typically a 3-point shooting team. Their 10.8 3-pointers per game heading into this contest ranked in the bottom-five in the league and usually, when they're knocking down that shot, they're close to unbeatable.
However, there's something about playing on Christmas that gives the Sixers superpowers to knock down 3s. Last year on Christmas Day against the Celtics, the 76ers hit a holiday-record 15 3s. This year, they broke that record while also tying their all-time franchise-record for 3s in a game.
Furkan Korkmaz drills the @sixers 16th triple... a NEW RECORD for threes made in a game on Christmas Day! #PhilaUnite #NBAXmas on ABC pic.twitter.com/5REaniTO2B- NBA (@NBA) December 25, 2019
Philly simply couldn't miss in this game. They buried 21 3-pointers, shooting 47.7% from beyond the arc.
Tobias Harris hit five 3-pointers, Furkan Korkmaz and Josh Richardson knocked down four 3-pointers apiece, Al Horford and Joel Embiid each made three 3s and Mike Scott and Trey Burke each chipped in one 3-ball.
On 3-pointers alone, the 76ers outscored the Bucks 63-39. Milwaukee was 13-for-33 from three shooting a solid 39.4%, but with Philly was hitting shots the way they were, the Bucks couldn't keep up.
Bucks quiet supporting cast
Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn't on his game which means the rest of the team needed to step up. Khris Middleton was fantastic, scoring 31 points going 12-for-21 from the field with five 3s, but the rest of the team was no where to be found.
George Hill contributed his normal double figures off the bench with 15 points, but 12 of those 15 points came in the first half. Brook Lopez reached double digits late in the game as the Bucks made their fourth quarter push, but aside from that, no other player eclipsed 10 points.
While it's going to be hard for this team to win any game in which their best player has a performance like he did, they still got the production they needed from Middleton. Should even one of the other players in the Bucks supporting cast had a solid performance, Milwaukee may have had a chance in this one even with how well Philadelphia shot from the perimeter.
Simmons slinging presents
Ben Simmons only scored 15 points in this one but he was dishing out more presents than Santa Claus today.
Simmons had a near-triple-double with 14 assists and seven rebounds. His 14 assists were a game-high and it led to 34 points for his teammates.
His playmaking played a huge role in the team's success from 3-point range, as eight of his 14 dimes resulted in made 3-pointers.
One game after dropping a career-high 17 assists, it's clear that Simmons has been seeing the floor well lately. Over his last three games, he's averaging 14.0 assists per game notching double digits helpers in each of those contests.
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