The Sixers-Bucks mini-rivalry took another turn on Thursday night after Joel Embiid got Eric Bledsoe ejected just three minutes into the first quarter. Bledsoe beamed Embiid with the basketball after the two got into a short shoving match, which was followed by Embiid tossing the ball Bledsoe’s way.
Milwaukee’s 118-112 win over Philadelphia also featured a mini-series between Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo took exception to Embiid’s claim that he’s the most unstoppable player in the NBA.
“If he believes he’s the most unstoppable player in the NBA, that’s good for him,” Antetokounmpo said pregame. “Obviously, he’s a really, really good player. … I think, like, other people should say that about you. You don’t say that about yourself.”
Antetokounmpo proceeded to block Embiid four times on the night, including once on a dunk attempt that sent the Sixers All-Star crashing to the ground. On another block, The Greek Freak swatted Embiid’s shot out of bounds, then looked at a Bucks teammate and told him, “He’s weak.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo called out Joel Embiid for claiming to be “the most unstoppable” player in the game & blocked his shot 4 times. The Greek Freak is playing with a “I will not be denied” determination. He’s trying to go get it. All of it. pic.twitter.com/xRIx2aFvm9
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) April 5, 2019
The Celtics and the Bucks have a real rivalry brewing
The last time these two teams met, it was Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons who got into it.
Antetokounmpo absolutely post-up pulverized Simmons, before staring him down and yelling to the crowd, “He’s a f****ng baby!”
Simmons used no such foul language. He just caught a put-back dunk over Antetokounmpo’s back, then stared him right back down — literally on the next possession.
The Bucks are 2-1 in matchups against the Sixers this season, but every game his been decided by seven or fewer points. Only two of those three matchups have come after Philly traded for both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. That two-game series is split at one apiece, decided by just eight points combined.
Will we see this matchup in the playoffs?
The Bucks are going to finish with the best record in the East, and the 76ers almost certainly will finish third in the conference. With Milwaukee at No. 1 and Philly at No. 3, the only way we see this matchup is if the teams meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. That’s because the Bucks will face the winner of the Boston-Indiana showdown in their second round, while the Sixers will likely have a date with Toronto if the Raptors emerge on top in their first-round series.
The Eastern Conference playoff picture could go any way. Four teams legitimately have a chance to come out on top. There’s no telling who will represent the East in the NBA Finals, likely a series against the Golden State Warriors.
But if the Bucks and 76ers do matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals, that means we get more Joel Embiid and more Giannis Antetokounmpo. And judging by how they’ve played against each other this season, that’s the matchup the world might want to see — especially if a shot at a championship hangs in the balance.