The Philadelphia 76ers needed to beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 13 to get momentum before the All-Star break. A win would leave the Sixers just two games back of the Bucks for the No. 8 playoff seed, as opposed to four games back with a loss. The Sixers looked to be in good shape to avoid that at first, yet they couldn’t hold on and suffered a 94-92 defeat.
The loss was painful in more ways than one, both for the playoff implications and how the Sixers had the game in their hands. Philadelphia jumped to a 28-18 lead after one quarter, then held onto the lead for much of the game. In fact, Milwaukee didn’t go ahead until there was over nine minutes left, then went up by as much as seven in the final minutes.
The Sixers tried to fight back, but unlike the Bucks, they couldn’t get over the top. They had one last chance to tie the game in the final seconds, yet Lue Mbah a Moute deflected a pass and time ran out from there.
Time is closer to running out for the Sixers in general, although there are still 31 games left this season. However, not only is Philadelphia down by four games to Milwaukee, it has also gone 0-3 against the Bucks with one game left between them. In that regard, the deficit is technically five games.
Philadelphia didn’t gain a game on Milwaukee when it lost to the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 11, and now it has lost an even bigger opportunity. The Sixers could have been as close as one game back going into the second half of the year, but they are at their lowest point yet going into the break.
This was a first half defined by Andrew Bynum’s absence, a less efficient offense without Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, and underachieving play from most of those left behind. As such, this costly loss to the Bucks may have been the most fitting way for the Sixers to wrap it up.
Philadelphia will have to sit on this for a week, although Jrue Holiday will get to distract himself by playing in the All-Star Game on Feb. 17. But while he is among the best of the best, the same can’t be said for his team.