MILWAUKEE — A couple of hours earlier than tip-off on Saturday, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers sat down for his pre-game press convention and, after bragging about his Marquette Golden Eagles’ Big East championship, famous how no lead is secure within the NBA anymore.
“It’s been that means for a yr and a half, I believe everybody’s beginning to discover now,” Rivers mentioned. “The 3-ball and the quantity of people that could make ’em have modified the sport. You simply cannot have empty possessions when you’ve a lead or it’ll go away shortly.”
Those phrases turned out to be prescient, because the Sixers got here again from an 18-point second-half deficit to stun the Milwaukee Bucks, 133-130, and finish the Eastern Conference leaders’ 16-game profitable streak. The Bucks’ profitable streak was the longest within the league for the reason that Phoenix Suns received 18 in a row in 2021.
“Hopefully we will use this and simply hold going,” James Harden mentioned. “They hold speaking about we have now the hardest schedule remaining. So for us it is simply each sport. Every sport, each quarter, each possession, ensuring we do it collectively, and tonight was enormous for us.”
Harden was stellar, ending with a season-high 38 factors, 9 rebounds and 10 assists. Nineteen of these factors and 4 of these assists got here within the fourth quarter, as Harden led the Sixers’ turnaround and got here up with enormous performs down the stretch. With the Sixers down by 4 and fewer than 90 seconds to play, Harden drained a 30-footer, then assisted on Joel Embiid’s go-ahead 3 on the very subsequent possession.
“That’s what I do man,” Harden mentioned. “I’m very snug in these conditions. Whether it is playmaking, whether or not it is scoring, I’ve been doing it for a very long time. That’s simply me on the market enjoying basketball. I put the work in, I work on it each single day in follow and the outcomes present.”
The Sixers scored 48 factors within the fourth quarter, which was practically as many as they’d in all the first half. Even extra spectacular, they scored on 10 of their closing 11 possessions, and the one empty journey was a five-second name the place they did not get a shot up.
Pre-game, Rivers praised the Bucks for his or her poise in massive moments, however in the long run it was his Sixers that stayed cool below stress down the stretch.
“That’s development for us,” Rivers mentioned. “The Bucks do what we did tonight on a regular basis. We hung in there, it was good. We have been actually struggling getting good rhythm offensively, we stored looking out, we stored trusting, and movie will look nice tomorrow as a result of it’ll present that.”
Losers of three out of 4 coming in to Saturday, this was a sport the Sixers wanted — to get again on observe, to achieve some much-needed confidence in opposition to a possible playoff foe and to keep up some respiratory room within the race for the No. 3 seed. It was no shock, then, that there was loads of yelling and celebrating because the workforce walked by means of the tunnel and again to the guests locker room.
But for all the thrill of breaking the Bucks’ streak, and the spectacular nature of the comeback, Embiid was there to convey everybody again to earth. More than an hour after the ultimate buzzer, and with the remainder of the workforce lengthy gone, the massive man lastly emerged to share his ideas.
“It’s good. Having these sort of video games, particularly with our schedule the remainder of the best way, it is good for us,” Embiid mentioned. “It prepares us for the playoffs. But it is good and dangerous. It’s good as a result of you already know you are in a position to do it, however then once more it is also dangerous since you additionally put your self in these positions. Maybe we should always attempt to discover a technique to not put ourselves in these positions within the first place.”