MILWAUKEE -- One of the ways teams have attacked the Milwaukee Bucks this season is by hoisting up a large number of three-point attempts.
So it wasn’t alarming to Sixers coach Brett Brown that his team launched 37 shots from beyond the arc in the Sixers' 113-104 win over Milwaukee on Monday (see instant replay).
“I wanted more of them,” Brown said.
The Bucks entered Monday tied for fourth in opponent three-point attempts and makes. Teams are averaging 10.3 made triples on 29.1 attempts against Milwaukee.
This has a lot to do with the length of the Bucks, which allow the ninth fewest points in the paint and are tied for 11th in blocked shots.
“When you look at how they play, I think they are the seventh ranked defense in the NBA, they are so long,” Brown said. “As we studied them and put forth a scouting report and instructions, we wanted everybody to take two steps further back as a starting point to create space for Joel (Embiid) and Jahlil (Okafor).
“Then you can hug the line or you can step into the line. We really wanted to promote steppers because of their length.”
Four of Milwaukee’s last five opponents have attempted at least 30 threes, and the Bucks have allowed at least 10 made threes in each of their last seven games.
The Sixers, which have hoisted at least 30 three-point attempts in 22 of 39 games, kept up the trend.
“Every team we play shoots threes,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “At some point, we have to understand what the three means to us as a team if we want to win. We can talk about it but if there's no effort in guarding it and understanding, again, it starts with effort. If we don't give it, we're going to give up a lot of threes.”
Philadelphia scored 18 of its 24 first-quarter points on three-pointers, making 6 of 13 attempts.
The only quarter the Sixers were beat from the three-point line was also the only quarter they were outscored Monday. Four of Milwaukee’s five made three-pointers came in the second quarter, while the Sixers were just 2 of 8.
In the decisive second half in which the Sixers outscored the Bucks, 67-50, they hit six threes and allowed just one.
“We knew how they are defending,” Sixers guard Sergio Rodriguez said. “They are a team with a lot of length, so it is hard to drive and get to the basket. They try to press and steal and are aggressive, so if we break the first line it is easier to shoot threes and find people open. That’s what we did, especially in the second half.”
While the Sixers shot just 37.8 percent from long range, they outscored the Bucks by 27 points on three-pointers.
Eight different players hit threes for the Sixers with Robert Covington, Ersan Ilyasova, Nik Stauskas, Gerald Henderson, Chasson Randle and Dario Saric all hitting a pair.
Jahlil Okafor was the only Sixers player to see the floor and not attempt a shot from beyond the arc.
“We needed to spread it out and we knew we needed to shoot a lot of threes,” Brown said. “We wanted to encourage it. I think it was a significant reason we were able to have 67 points in the second half.”
Okafor stays ready
Up until roughly 30 minutes before tipoff, Okafor was not expecting to play Monday.
Nerlens Noel was set to back up Joel Embiid at center until a sprained left ankle left him a pregame scratch, which meant Okafor got the call.
“You have to mentally get ready,” Okafor said. “I just had to get loose as quick as I could. I have been working extremely hard to stay prepared in case something like this happens.”
Okafor finished with 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting in 20 minutes, helping the Sixers' reserves outscore Milwaukee’s bench, 52-34.
“To go to Jahlil Okafor before the game and say, ‘I’m not going to go with you, I’m going to go with Nerlens,’ and then two minutes before warm ups go, ‘Whoops, it looks like you are in,’ he didn’t flinch,” Brown said. “I thought he played hard and played well. He was a really big part of the reason we won tonight.
“His attitude continues to blow me away given his age and what he is going through.”