Two of the Eastern Conference's powerhouses locked horns in Milwaukee and they did not disappoint.
Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 40 points, 15 rebounds and six assists on 15-of-31 shooting from the field, scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter.
This is @sixers @JoelEmbiid's 25th game this season with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds, the most in the @NBA.- Sixers Stats (@SixersStats) March 17, 2019
The last player w/ at least 25 such games in a season was @russwest44 (32 in 2016-17). Charles Barkley (27 in 1987-88) was the last 76er to do so.
The 76ers make it four wins in a row, in Embiid's fourth game back since returning from injury, clinching their playoff berth in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2008 and 2009, but it didn't come easy as they held off a ferocious effort from Giannis Antetokunmpo, who recorded a career-high 52 points on 15-of-26 shooting, adding 16 rebounds and seven assists.
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The 76ers built a 62-53 half-time lead, with Embiid (16 points) and Antetokounmpo (17 points) going back and forth as neither team had an answer for the respective superstars.
A three-pointer from Mike Scott with 9:34 in the fourth quarter gave the 76ers a comfortable 98-86 lead, before the Bucks made things interesting down the stretch, behind buckets from Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton, who scored 10 of his 19 points in the final frame.
Jimmy Butler checked back into the game with 8:13 remaining, as he and Embiid steadied the ship for the 76ers, combining to score 28 of the team's next 30 points.
The Bucks cut the deficit to just four points and looked on track to pull off the comeback, but Embiid had other ideas, sucking the enrgy out of Fiserv Forum with this dagger three to make the lead seven points with 34.9 seconds left.
Joel Embiid extends the @sixers lead!#HereTheyCome 123#FearTheDeer 118- NBA (@NBA) March 17, 2019
24.9 left on #NBAonABC pic.twitter.com/oOujM89CrW
Butler, who finished with 27 points, was relentless in the fourth, hitting tough shot after tough shot to lead the 76ers home. Ben Simmons finished with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists on the night.
What a bucket 👀 pic.twitter.com/VBGbLyGg2X- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 17, 2019
With the win, Philly move to 45-25, a full game clear of the fourth-placed Indiana Pacers, evening the season series against the Bucks at 1-1. The two teams will play one more time this season on April 5 in Philadelphia.