EditorsNote: eds: updates with playoff scenario
Dario Saric scored 24 points, Justin Anderson added 25 points off the bench, and the Philadelphia 76ers roared into the postseason with a 130-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center to secure the third overall seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers closed the regular season on a 16-game winning streak, the longest ever for a team entering the postseason, winning half of those games with All-Star center Joel Embiid sidelined by a facial fracture. Philadelphia has served notice as a dark horse candidate for the playoffs, with its dismantling of Milwaukee the latest example of its potential.
As the No. 3 seed, Philadelphia will take on the sixth-seeded Miami Heat. Meanwhile, the Bucks slipped into the No. 7 seed and will face the second-seeded Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Bucks entered their regular-season finale having won seven of 10 games and occupying sixth place in the East. Midway through the first quarter, they were out of contention against the Sixers, with their fate in the hands of a handful of teams near the bottom of the playoff picture.
While Milwaukee was producing as many turnovers (six) as field goals in the first quarter, the Sixers were sending the partisan crowd in a tizzy with their exceptional shooting. Philadelphia shot 64.7 percent in the opening period and drilled 8 of 11 3-pointers, the most 3s the Sixers have recorded in any quarter this season. After Giannis Antetokounmpo scored to pull the Bucks to within 20-10 at the 6:14 mark of the first, Philadelphia responded with a 17-0 blitz.
The Sixers led by as many as 30 points in the opening period, the largest first-quarter lead in the NBA since the Los Angeles Clippers held a 31-point advantage over the Sixers en route to a 123-78 victory on Feb. 9, 2014. Philadelphia produced 14 assists on 18 field goals while Marco Belinelli, T.J. McConnell, Anderson and Saric sank two 3-pointers each in its 46-point period.
That total represented the most points Milwaukee allowed in any quarter this season.
Philadelphia led 80-46 at the break and extended to a 41-point lead while cruising to victory.
Jabari Parker paced the Bucks with 25 points off the bench. Antetokounmpo tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds.
—Field Level Media