The Philadelphia 76ers welcome the Milwaukee Bucks at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night (04/04) in a big derby between two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Both the 76ers (49-27) and the Bucks (57-20) have clinched a spot in the NBA playoffs and they will finish third and first, respectively, unless a dramatic change takes place.
Moreover, Milwaukee is one step away from securing the best record in the entire league and claiming the home-court advantage until the NBA Finals.
The two squads are facing off for a third time this season. Milwaukee won the first match on October 25th (123-108), whereas Philadelphia were victorious two weeks ago (March 17th, 130-125).
Although the outcome of this match will not affect their place in the standings, the winner will gain momentum ahead of the playoffs, which start on April 13th.
At the time of this writing, Milwaukee saw a four-game winning streak come to an end on Sunday night (31/03).
The Bucks lost to the Hawks in Atlanta in overtime (136-135), with Trae Young scoring the game-winning shot at the buzzer. Prior to the battle with the 76ers, they will face the Nets in Brooklyn tonight (01/04).
On the other hand, the 76ers have won their last two matches and have the chance to extend their streak to four games before facing Milwaukee.
In order to do this, they have to claim road victories against the Dallas Mavericks (April 1) and the Atlanta Hawks (April 3), respectively.
A key fact on Thursday’s match-up will be whether the two coaches will decide to rest their top players, with the playoffs less than two weeks away.
For example, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton are dealing with ankle soreness and groin soreness, respectively. Although their condition is being evaluated day-to-day, it is likely they will miss the following matches in order to fully recover.
Certainly, if this happens, Philadelphia will become the grand favourite to win the game, as Milwaukee is a completely different team, when the two players (and especially the “Greek Freak”) are not on the floor.
On the other hand, Joel Embiid will not take part in the team’s three-game road trip, so he is expected to make his return against the Bucks. Yet, it is possible he will have more rest in order to be 100% in the postseason.
This match will see two of the best offensive lines in the league square off against each other.
Milwaukee has the best offence in the NBA, averaging 117.8 points per game. For its part, Philadelphia scores 115.2 points per game, being fourth on the respective list.
At the same time, the Bucks concede 108.4 points per game, having the eighth best defence in the league, whereas the 76ers allow their opponents to score 112.1 points and only have the 17th best defence.
With that in mind, a high-scoring game is expected, especially if both teams have a full roster.
The two teams are in great form, having won seven (7-3) and eight (8-2) of their last 10 matches, respectively. Milwaukee has an impressive record at home (32-6), but they also play very well on the road (25-14).
Philadelphia is not very effective on the road (19-18), but plays at very high standards at the Wells Fargo Center (30-9).
The latest NBA odds have not been out yet, but expect the 76ers to be the favourite, especially if the Bucks play without Antetokounmpo and Middleton.
Overall, a great game is expected in Philadelphia, in what can be a preview of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals.