The Sixers hit their home grounds for the first time this season, welcoming Giannis Antetekounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks into town on Thursday night. Despite James Harden’s 31-point performance, the Sixers were unable to complete a comeback. Wesley Matthews three with thirty seconds left was the decision-maker and the Sixers fell, 90-88.

Here are some instant takeaways from the house editorial.

First Quarter

  • It was another slow start for the Sixers defensively. The Bucks’ 30-point first quarter started when they fired seven of their first 10 shots. Despite being mirrored by PJ Tucker, Antetokounmpo had 10 quarter points on a perfect 4 out of 4.
  • Although he definitely got off to a better start tonight from Boston, it still looks like the Sixers need more Joel Embiid. His 11 points and five boards drove all players into the first quarter, but the offense seemed to lose a move when Harden went to the bench.

Second Quarter

  • Sixers fans can breathe a little easier tonight: Paul Reed backs up Embiid.
  • De’Anthony Melton was the spark the Sixers needed to start the quarter. His seven-point defeat in the first four minutes was crucial to keeping Philly close to the match. It was also nice to see a couple make it after a tough shooting season.
  • Another encouraging offensive performance from Harden, who had a 9-3-6 in the first half, while being chased by Jrue Holiday. Just from an eye-testing standpoint, he seemed to be driving to the basket much better than he did at any point last season.
  • It was a much better defensive quarter in the second half for the Sixers, who gave up just 17 points per second and were punctuated by an Embiid block from the chase. This quarter was the best paint defense the Sixers have played all season, and they were able to cut their lead to two in half.

Third quarter

  • The Sixers’ attack excelled in the third attack when they attacked Grayson Allen. Harden took advantage of this early on, getting a wide open look with a float. Despite this success, the Sixers were unable to hit the ball to move forward. Crime really died out again once Harden was off Earth. The team scored only three field goals in the last 4:08 of this period.
  • Brooke Lopez was a real pain for Philly in the third. Eight of his points came in the frame and he also managed to frustrate Embiid defensively. Embiid didn’t score in third and had some really frustrating turnarounds. The Wells Fargo Center audience let him have it. Philly struggled with his star, allowing Milwaukee to advance by 10 points to fourth.
  • The Sixers went to Harrell instead of Reed in the second half. Take this for what it’s worth.

The fourth quarter

  • Despite how badly The Sixers died at the end of the third, Harden did his best to make sure they didn’t go quietly into the night. He had another mid-range attack for eight points at the start of the fourth. There weren’t many bright spots yet for the Sixers, but Harden was definitely the brightest.
  • Harden’s eight-point rush to start fourth led to a 13-0 run that saw Philly tie the game at 80. Tonight was the first night we saw the payoffs of the amount of work Harden put in in the middle jump this off-season. Harden’s seven goals were the most in a single game of his career.
  • It was obvious that the newbies still had some spotting each other to do offensively. It’s not the end of the world, since it’s only the second game of the season together. They weren’t able to get enough stops and pull it off with their best players struggling.
  • It wasn’t the cleanest look Harden could have, but it wasn’t the worst thing they could paint. They went to the hot hand and did not fall off.

The Sixers will try again for their first win of the season on Saturday at home against the San Antonio Spurs at 6 p.m. EST.

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