Bucks to play 76ers in Philadelphia on Christmas Day

For the sixth time in franchise history and second straight year, the Milwaukee Bucks will be featured on Christmas Day.

Last December, the Bucks played their first Christmas Day game since 1977 in New York against the Knicks. They’ll travel out east again next season to take on the 76ers in Philadelphia. It’s great the Bucks are back playing on X-mas, but it would’ve been nice to see them host.

The matchup features two of the best players in the NBA. The reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo and center Joel Embiid are set up to have a classic battle. As for the two teams, the Bucks and 76ers are expected to be the top two competing for a trip to the NBA Finals.

There are five total games being played on the Christmas Day slate. In addition to the Bucks playing the 76ers, the day will feature four other marquee games | The Los Angeles Lakers vs Los Angeles Clippers, the New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets, the Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets at the Golden State Warriors.

The Bucks are 3-2 all-time on December 25th. The defeated the Knicks 109-95 on Christmas last season. The full NBA schedule is expected to be released in a few weeks.

76ers 130, Bucks 125: Last Word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks fell at home to the Philadelphia 76ers 130-125.

Player of the game: Joel Embiid

Embiid was terrific Sunday afternoon. He finished with 40 points on 15-31 shooting and grabbed 15 rebounds. It seemed like Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo went back and forth all night long.

Giannis and Embiid are two of the best players in the Eastern Conference and these two teams could very well meet in the playoffs. If Sunday is any indication on what we could see in the postseason it would make for a great series.

Play of the game: Giannis puts Ben Simmons on a poster

Giannis was on the attack all game long. His eyes lit up when he had Simmons in the post, and he gave us another highlight.

After the game, Simmons said he enjoyed guarding Giannis.

He’s the main guy on their team. Obviously, he’s a tremendous player. I love taking the challenge of guarding someone like that.

The good: Never gave up

The Bucks entered the game already short-handed. Malcolm Brogdon didn’t play and will miss a significant amount of time after being diagnosed with a minor plantar fascia tear in his right foot. They were able to play good enough to win without him but just failed to knock down some open shots. The 76ers made some tough shots late in the game to finally put the Bucks away. Milwaukee never seemed out of it. They kept fighting and clawing all the way to the end. This is what makes them so hard to beat.

The not so good: Slow start

Milwaukee had trouble from the start getting anything going. They shot just 32.3% in the first quarter and were down by nine (62-53) by halftime. Khris Middleton shared his thoughts on the slow start.

I don’t know. We started like that in Miami and were able to turn it around. Tonight, not so much. But, we got a lot of great looks. The open shots just didn’t go in. We got great looks, and they’ve been going down most of the year. Guys still competed and played hard.

The Bucks have been able to combat slow starts this season with terrific second halves, but Philadelphia was just too much on Sunday. They can’t afford to have these kinds of cold-streaks in the playoffs.

The weird: Giannis draws shooting foul from half-court

They all say to never foul a jump-shooter, but it goes without saying to never foul someone attempting a half-court shot. That’s exactly what 76ers guard T.J. McConnell did with 0.4 seconds left in the first quarter. Giannis was just trying to get a shot off before the buzzer and ended up getting three free throws to end the quarter. You don’t see that every day.

Stat of the game: 52

Giannis finished with a career-high 52 points. He was unstoppable from all over the court. He was feeling it from deep knocking down three three-pointers. Giannis also had a field day from the free throw line converting on 19 of his 21 attempts. Head coach Mike Budenholzer talked about his performance.

He was impressive. The impact that he has on both ends, he just does so many things for us, attacking the basket and finishing, and defensively. We didn’t start off well and it took him a little bit of time to get his rhythm. I don’t know that we ever really recovered from that first six or eight-minute stretch. Certainly he gave us a chance and kind of put us on his back in the third quarter. Great individual performance by Giannis.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the loss

Individually a couple of their guys stepped up. I like the way our guys competed. We kind of fought back. They needed to make a couple of plays down the stretch and to their credit they did. We didn’t have our best game. We’ll learn from today and I think we’ll get better from today.”

76ers head coach Brett Brown on playing the Bucks in a tough home environment

To go and play against one of the more consistent teams in the league as it sits right now, the best team in the league and the best team on defense, and to try to learn and grow and move forward, there is some talent in that room. [Our team] understood the environment and the stage, and responded as they did.

In case you missed it:

*The Bucks still own the best record in the NBA at 52-18 and are the only team with 50 wins.

*Giannis scored a career-high 52 points on 15-26 shooting. This was the first 50-point game of his career.

*Giannis joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in Bucks history with a 50-point, 15-rebound game. Abdul-Jabbar had three such games in his career.

*52 points is tied for eight most in a game in Bucks history and are the most since Brandon Jennings had 55 points on 11/14/09. This is just the 13th 50-point game in franchise history.

*D.J. Wilson recorded his fourth game in double figures this season, scoring 13 points on 5-8 shooting and 3-6 from beyond the arc.

What’s next?

The Bucks (52-18) host the Los Angeles Lakers (31-39) on Tuesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.