Sixers-Bucks: 5 things you need to know

Sixers-Bucks: 5 things you need to know
November 22, 2013, 12:15 pm
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The Sixers (5-8) will attempt to snap their four-game losing skid when they host the Milwaukee Bucks (2-8) on Friday night.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CSN) at the Wells Fargo Center.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. No time like the present
After getting off to a surprising start to the season, the Sixers have hit a rough patch over the past week. They lost all three games on their road trip and fell to Atlantic Division foe Toronto in their return home on Wednesday.

What could possibly help solve the Sixers’ woes? Perhaps a visit from the Eastern Conference’s worst team.

The Bucks have the worst record in the East at 3-8. They’ve lost six in a row, their worst skid in five seasons.

The Bucks have been depleted by injuries to start the season. Key players Ersan Ilyasova, Caron Butler, Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour have all missed time recently with various ailments.

Milwaukee has felt the brunt of those absences, particularly on the offensive end. The Bucks are 27th in the league in scoring with 89.4 points per game.

2. Three is not the magic number
Defending the three-point arc continues to be a major issue for the Sixers.

The Sixers are allowing league-high numbers in three-point attempts per game (29.7), three-pointers made per game (12.1) and three-point percentage (40.7). The Sixers have allowed 13 or more three-pointers in a game eight times this season, only five shy of the all-time record set by the Charlotte Bobcats last season.

That doesn’t bode well for Wednesday’s game against the Bucks, who are fifth-best in the league from long range at 41.3 percent. Guards O.J. Mayo and Gary Neal have been especially lethal from three-point range, shooting 53.2 and 52.8 percent from distance, respectively.

3. Man in the middle
The Sixers’ own top three-point threat has been on a tear of his own to start the season.

Spencer Hawes is coming off his best game of the year after scoring a season-high 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the power forward spot for Thaddeus Young against the Raptors. For the season, Hawes is averaging a double-double with 16.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while shooting a team-high 48.9 percent on three-pointers.

“He surprised me all over the place,” head coach Brett Brown said about Hawes (see story).  “I see an extremely versatile player that is a hell of a teammate. And his ability to pass -- look at the backdoor cuts he's hit our guys on -- his ability to grow to the three-point line and change games like that, we've seen.”

Hawes clearly hasn’t let the pressure of playing in a contract year have a negative impact on his game.

4. Injuries
Young (personal reasons) missed Wednesday’s game and there was no immediate word on when he would rejoin the team.

Nerlens Noel (knee), Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and Jason Richardson are out.

Ilyasova (ankle) and Butler (shoulder) returned to action during the Bucks’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

Neal (foot) and Zaza Pachulia (flu) are day to day.

Knight (hamstring) is doubtful to play on Friday night.

5. This and that
• The Sixers lost three of their four games against the Bucks last season.
• The Bucks have averaged just 79.3 points over their last three games.
• The Bucks have had plenty of trouble rebounding the ball this season. They rank 28th in rebounds per game (40), 27th in opponents’ rebounds per game (45.7) and dead last in the NBA in rebound differential (minus-5.7).