At the start of the season, this might’ve been an Eastern Conference finals preview.
In February, it was a matchup between the best team in the NBA and the one that’s failed to come close to meeting expectations.
All eyes were on the battle inside the paint between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid during the Milwaukee Bucks’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers, and it was the Greek Feak who came out of the matchup as the winner on all counts.
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Antetokounmpo finished with 36 points, 20 rebounds, and six assists in a 112-102 Bucks win, with Mike Budenholzer’s team improving to 44-7 on the season.
Australia’s Ben Simmons finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists for the 76ers, while Tobias Harris led the way with 25 points.
The story of the game, however, was Embiid, who had a double-double — 19 points and 11 rebounds — but shot just 6-of-26 from the field, including 3-of-10 from downtown.
It was a subpar shooting effort from the centre, who was called out at half-time by NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
“S-O-F… capital T,” O’Neal said on the broadcast, before praising Antetokounmpo’s game.
“He’s playing for the foul,” he added, before mimicking a child’s voice. “He has a little bandaid on his little hand. He wants to ref to call a foul. The ref don’t call the foul so he runs back on defence like a little baby, and you let this guy score on you.”
O’Neal’s fellow panellists accused him of being harsh, but the Hall of Famer didn’t accept that criticism.
“I’m not being harsh… it ain’t your coach’s fault, it ain’t your teammates’ fault,” O’Neal said. “It’s your fault. Period.”
The loss was the 76ers’ fourth in a row, and sees them drop to 31-21.