May 28, 2023

3 storylines as undermanned 76ers host reigning champs Bucks


Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The 8-3 76ers will hope to avoid their first losing streak of the season on Tuesday night as they host the reigning NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.

Here’s three storylines:

Another name pops up on injury report

The hits won’t stop coming for the Sixers as they have another key player who could potentially miss the matchup in Seth Curry.

Curry, who hasn’t missed a game yet for the Sixers, is questionable leading up to Tuesday night’s game with a left foot contusion.

The veteran guard was one of three regulars in Philadelphia’s starting five in Monday night loss to the the New York Knicks. Curry played 40 minutes and took ten shots from the field. He scored 40% of his shots and went 2-for-6 from beyond the arc, posting 14 points.

Along with Curry, there were five other names on the 5:30 injury report. Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Isaiah Joe, and Matisse Thybulle are all out for health and safety protocols. Sixers’ head coach Doc Rivers said before Tuesday’s matchup that Tobias Harris is doing “a lot better” and will be back “sooner than later.”

Ben Simmons (personal reasons) and Grant Riller (left knee injury recovery) are both out as well.

The Sixers will certainly need Curry in the lineup on Tuesday as they need all the help they can get to avoid dropping two games in a row. However, the guard will be a game-time decision against Milwaukee.

Rookies seem to be getting some minutes

First round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft Jaden Springer and second-rounder Aaron Henry wrapped up a joint workout over two hours before tip-off Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. Based on Rivers’ postgame comments, one or even both rookies will play Tuesday.

“Tomorrow we’re going to play 10 guys,” Rivers said. “We have to. I don’t know who that 10 is, but 10 guys have to play tomorrow. We’ve got to get our guys to the end of the game so they’re a little fresher.”

Four Sixers played at least 38 minutes against the Knicks. Tyrese Maxey has averaged close to 43 minutes over the past three games and was clearly one of the players who (understandably) had less in his legs than usual. Georges Niang, one member of the team’s three-man bench, was also among that tired group. 

Pick-and-choose defense

All of the Sixers’ easy options to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo are out. That was also the case the last time the Sixers faced the Bucks on April 24 of last season in Milwaukee where Ben Simmons and Embiid were both out.

The Sixers played a 2-3 zone at the beginning of that game and allowed the two-time MVP to post 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in 24 minutes. The Bucks won by 38 points that night.

Might Rivers show some zone Tuesday night? Milwaukee has only mad 33.0% of its wide-open three-pointers, 25th in the NBA, so perhaps the Sixers can have success packing the paint and surviving good Bucks looks beyond the arc. In a man-to-man scheme, Danny Green appears the likeliest to defend Antetokounmpo. 

Catch the game Tuesday night on TNT at 7:30pm ET at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.

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