MILWAUKEE – Here are my key takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 118-110 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
— Before the game, Sixers coach Brett Brown talked about making sure his team gets better with each outing. Well, the Sixers took a step backward. They committed 26 turnovers and blew a 20-point, first-quarter lead and a 19-point, third-quarter cushion en route to a loss more lopsided than the final score would indicate.
— Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and JJ Redick have to do a better job of handling the ball. The trio combined for 18 of the 26 turnovers. Embiid had seven. Simmons finished with six, and Redick had five. Embiid and Simmons had been hampered by turnovers for most of the season before showing improvement recently.
— No matter how many turnovers Simmons had, the Sixers were basically at their best when he and Dario Saric were on the floor. The Sixers squandered their first-quarter advantage partly because the duo was resting on the bench. Then their third-quarter cushion evaporated big time when the Sixers went back to the bench. The Sixers also failed to keep feeding Saric, who was the hottest player on the floor. He scored 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting in the first quarter. But Saric attempted only five shots the rest of the game, making three to finish with a team-high 25 points.
— Sixers fans everywhere became nervous when Embiid banged his left knee late in the first quarter. The big man fell to the court with 46.6 seconds left. He was taken out of the game 0.6 later. Luckily for the Sixers — and their fans — nothing was wrong with the all-star center. But with his health issues, it was easy to see why folks were scared.
— The Sixers miss Justin Anderson’s defensive presence. While the turnovers doomed them, so did an inability to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo (35 points), Eric Bledsoe (22) and Jabari Parker (13). Parker, a reserve forward, scored 10 of his points in the second half with ease. Anderson (out with a sprained right ankle) would have provided better resistance than those guarding the Bucks trio.
‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards
— Best performance: This was an easy choice. Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 35 points on 14-for-23 shooting. He also had a game-high nine rebounds to go with seven assists, two steals and one block in his second straight dominant performance against the Sixers.
— Worst performance: I had to give this to Ersan Ilyasova even on a night when the Sixers’ top three players combined for 18 turnovers. The reserve power forward missed four of his six shots in scoring seven points. He committed two turnovers and graded out at minus-15 in 18 minutes, 21 seconds of action.
— Best defensive performance: Antetokounmpo also gets this one for his defensive presence.
— Worst statistic: This goes to the Sixers’ committing 26 turnovers.
— Best statistic: This award goes to the Sixers’ shooting 76.2 percent (16 for 21) in the first quarter.
— Worst of the worst: This goes to the Sixers’ reverting back into the turnover-prone team that couldn’t hold leads in inexcusable losses earlier this season.