By Tommy Matthews
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and had 14 rebounds and six assists, outperforming fellow MVP candidate Joel Embiid as the Bucks beat the Sixers 117-104 and moved one step closer to clinching the Eastern Conference’s top seed.
The Bucks (56-22) have a two-game lead over Boston (54-24) with four games left. Boston won the season series with Milwaukee and has the tiebreaker. Philly (51-27) is third in the East.
Antetokounmpo won the MVP in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. He’s averaging 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists this season.
Tyrese Maxey had 29 points to lead the 76ers. Embiid had 28.
“I thought they just kicked our butt,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers. “They were more aggressive, they were prepared. They beat us all the way around.”
The Bucks bounced back three nights after a 140-99 home loss to Boston that matched their most-lopsided defeat of the season.
Milwaukee made its first eight shots from the floor and 12 of its first 13. The Bucks led by as many as 20 during a first half in which they shot 67.4%.
“Hot shooting to start the game,” Embiid said. “They jumped on us and we didn’t have any answers.”
The 76ers got within four in the third quarter, but the Bucks soon regained a double-digit advantage and broke the game open by going on a 16-2 run that began late in the third and carried over to the final period.