Sixers head into All-Star break with loss to Bucks

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Sixers head into All-Star break with loss to Bucks

BOX SCORE

MILWAUKEE -- When April 17 rolls around, the Sixers may likely look back at Wednesday’s 94-92 loss to Milwaukee as the game that took away their hopes of reaching the postseason for a third straight time since Doug Collins took over as head coach.

The Bucks erased a 10-point, first-quarter deficit by scoring 16 points off 15 Sixers’ turnovers and holding the Sixers to 6 of 23 shooting in the fourth quarter (see Instant Replay).

“Turnovers, even at the start, were hurting us,” said Spencer Hawes, who scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds. “I mean they scored 16 points off turnovers. It is hard to win when you give away that many easy ones.”

“I told our guys against this team turnovers really hurt you,” Collins said after the Sixers’ record dropped to 22-29. “We did fight. We had some dry spells. We still don’t do a good job of recognizing when teams are trapping Jrue [Holiday]. We are going too fast.”

“It is on all five, not just the guy being trapped,” Hawes added. “We have to present ourselves earlier and get in the right spots and we have to get off the ball quick. But then we have to make a play when we get on the back end. You can’t run away from the ball and an opportunity to make a play 4-on-3.”

The Sixers were up 50-43 at halftime, and had held the Bucks to 35 percent shooting. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis were kept in check as they combined for 17 points in the first half.

However, Jennings hit the Sixers with 12 points in the third quarter before finishing with 21. Ellis finished with 27 points.

Scoring became easier as the night went on for Milwaukee’s backcourt. The same could not be said for the Sixers.

Nick Young made his first four shots and had 12 points at the end of the first quarter. He was just 0 for 2 from the field the rest of the game and 2 of 2 at the foul line to finish with 14 points.

Picking up two personal fouls in the first eight minutes of the game didn’t help Young’s cause to stay in an early rhythm.

“I think his foul trouble kind of got him out of rhythm.” Hawes said of Young. “He is a guy when he is rolling you have to keep him going. That is on all of us. We have to get him shots, we need him to score. It is on all of us when he is not getting attempts. It is on him to make them, but we have to help him get them up.”

Despite their struggles to score in the fourth quarter, the Sixers had a great look at a tying basket from Jrue Holiday who, pulled up for a 12-footer that clanked off the rim with seven seconds remaining.

“I really thought that shot was going in,” Holiday said. “Unfortunately, situations happen and we really didn’t get another chance to tie up the game. Very disappointed, but we have to move on from it.”

Holiday’s was aggressive on the rebound of his miss and tied up Luc Mbah a Moute for a jump ball. Holiday won the tap with the ball ending up in Royal Ivey’s hands with five seconds to play.

“I got up on that,” Holiday said. “I tipped it to (Ivey), and then I think he tried to get it back to me but Luc tipped it. I thought, honestly, it was going out of bounds, but he made a smart play tipping it to the backcourt, running out the time.”

The Sixers had two timeouts before that crucial jump ball but elected not to use them.

“Before the jump ball you are supposed to think about it,” Young said. “It is one of those situations you wish you could have back, but you never know what you are going to do in the heat of the moment.”

The Sixers’ loss was the third this season to the Bucks and they now sit four games behind Milwaukee for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Sixers have 31 games remaining when they return from the All-Star break. Thaddeus Young is recovering from a hamstring strain and Andrew Bynum is still working his way onto the court for the first time this season.

If the Sixers’ postseason picture becomes any bleaker than it currently is, those reinforcements may be even slower to get back on the hardwood.

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas

Position: Shooting Guard

Status for 2017-18: Guaranteed — $3,807,147

Stauskas in 2016-17
In his second season with the Sixers and third in the NBA, Nik Stauskas saw himself generally improve across the board, albeit by a small amount. The Sixers as a whole had a plethora of injuries that kept nearly every player off the court for extended periods, yet Stauskas remained healthy enough to play 80 games, start 27 and play 27.4 minutes a contest. Health is certainly a skill and Stauskas has it.

As for his play on the court, Stauskas got better in essentially every category. His field goal percentage rose from 38.5 to 39.6 percent, he shot a career-high 36.8 percent from three and he improved his scoring to 9.5 points per game while also sporting career highs in rebounds, assists and blocks with only a 2.6 minute increase in minutes per game.

His consistency was pretty notable. He played at least 23 minutes in every game after Jan. 20 and was a constant in an ever-changing Sixers rotation. He had eight straight games with double figures to end February. While he began the year as the backup two-guard, Stauskas started at shooting guard by the end of the year with Gerald Henderson nursing an injury. Coach Brett Brown even had Stauskas play point guard down the stretch with injuries to Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez creating an opening. In that way, Stauskas diversified his skill set

Signature game
Stauskas' season-high 21 points came against Phoenix in mid-November, a win against a team even worse than the Sixers. Stauskas had 20 points on back-to-back games in Orlando and Oklahoma City in late March, hitting eight threes over the two games.

But what is a signature game for Stauskas without a little measure of revenge? On Jan. 30, Stauskas made four threes and scored 16 points against the Kings, providing some key baskets in a 122-119 win over his former mates.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
Next season for Stauskas will be a critical one. It'll be the final season of his four-year rookie contract. While he's improved year to year, he's not quite the product one may expect out of the former eighth overall pick. At this point, a few years removed from that 2014 draft, it is unfair to continually compare him to that draft and instead focus on what he is.

Well, what is Stauskas? He's a shooting guard who can play a little bit of the point in a pinch and can hit a decent, albeit not elite, clip of threes. There's value there for sure. However, with a bevy of potential draft picks coming the Sixers' way, the guard known as Sauce Castillo could see his role downsized in 2017-18 with a rookie taking his minutes.

Even players getting healthy could take minutes away from Stauskas. He's already competing with veteran Gerald Henderson, also a free agent after 2017-18, for minutes and Bayless may be squeezed into more of a two-guard role with Ben Simmons at the point. Simmons, Bayless and T.J. McConnell likely take away the few opportunities Stauskas would have to play point guard, but he only took that on because of injury anyway.

Still, even in a roster squeeze, Stauskas brings a fair amount to the table. Brown's system needs shooters and despite a few slumps, Stauskas can drain jumpers. He's developed chemistry in the locker room and has earned enough trust and stayed healthy enough to play 27 minutes a game in the NBA. 

On Stauskas
"We're seeing a skill package that everybody talked about when he came out of college. You're seeing a lottery pick play. I'm personally happy for him because he cares sometimes too much and he's so self-conscious at times and extremely prideful and he's being rewarded for the work he has put in."

- Sixers coach Brett Brown

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

ATLANTA -- John Wall had that look in his eye at morning shootaround.

Bradley Beal knew it was going to be a big night for Washington's star point guard.

Wall scored 42 points -- a career playoff high, with 19 coming in the fourth quarter to single-handedly hold off a furious Atlanta comeback -- and the Wizards eliminated the Hawks with a 115-99 victory Friday, capturing the opening-round playoff series 4-2.

"You could just tell he was locked in," Beal said. "He was ready to go. We just feed off that."

Beal wasn't too shabby either, scoring 31 points (see full recap).

Celtics complete series comeback, eliminate Bulls
CHICAGO -- The Boston Celtics kept reminding each other not to let up as they closed in on a lopsided victory and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No need to worry about that.

Avery Bradley scored 23 points, and the hot-shooting Celtics pounded the Chicago Bulls 105-83 to win their first-round series 4-2 on Friday night.

The top-seeded Celtics simply torched Chicago to finish off a tougher-than-anticipated series and advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Boston regrouped after dropping the first two games at home and will meet Washington in the Eastern semifinals. Game 1 is Sunday (see full recap).

Clippers beat Jazz on road to force Game 7
SALT LAKE CITY -- Chris Paul scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Clippers forced a Game 7 in their first-round series with a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The Clippers will host the only do-or-die game of the first round Sunday, with the winner advancing to face the Golden State Warriors.

Los Angeles began to edge away in the third quarter and appeared to be in control when Austin Rivers capped a 9-2 run with a step-back 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 91-77 with 3:58 remaining.

He hit another with 1:29 left to make it 96-86, but Gordon Hayward scored seven straight to bring the Jazz within three before Joe Johnson missed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds (see full recap).