By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
— x – Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 12, 2018
Philadelphia 130, Milwaukee 95 – Box Score
Seeking to clinch the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Sixers wasted no time showing they were the more motivated team in Wednesday night’s regular season finale against Milwaukee. Just 6 seconds into the game, Marco Belinelli, filling in as a starter for J.J. Redick (lower back tightness), drained a three from the right wing. The points continued to come nearly that quickly for the Sixers throughout the rest of the game.
As shot after shot found the mark, Philadelphia went up by as many as 30 points in the first quarter, ending the frame ahead by 28. Heading into the locker room at halftime, the Sixers had a Wells Fargo Center record 80 points in the first half. With the outcome long since decided, the only drama toward the end of the game concerned an unlikely triple-double for Markelle Fultz.
The rookie snagged his 10th rebound with a little more than a minute left in the game, immediately getting mobbed by both teammates on the court and the bench along the baseline. Fultz finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, and a block, joining Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell among Sixers point guards to record a triple-double this season, and becoming the youngest player in NBA history to pull of the feat.
Aside from the round statistical benchmarks, Fultz was merciless in attacking the basket and used his long wingspan to track down seemingly every loose ball. He looked incredibly confident on the court and it’s amazing that in a few short weeks, he’s gone from a total question mark to a pivotal part of the playoff rotation.
Of course, there was no shortage of great performances from the Sixers in the blowout victory. Here were a few:
– Dario Saric came back from the dentist with a new mouthpiece and scored 24 points in 28 minutes.
– Richaun Holmes dunked any ball without a five-foot radius of the basket, finishing with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
– T.J. McConnell received time alongside the other two point guards with Redick out, and responded with his best game in quite some time (16 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals).
– Justin Anderson actually led the scoring, dropping 25 points on 5-12 shooting from behind the arc. Anderson is likely the best two-way option on the wing to back up Robert Covington; this performance might give Brett Brown added confidence to turn to him in the postseason.
The Philadelphia victory marked 16 straight wins, the longest winning streak in NBA history to end a regular season. The Sixers will face the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, starting on Saturday. Donning a black mask in a pregame press conference, Joel Embiid said he is unlikely to play in Game 1, a sentiment that Brett Brown reiterated after the game. Fortunately for the Sixers, Embiid or no Embiid, they’ve proven they can get the job done.