All-Stars on display in Bucks vs. 76ers
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Newly minted All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid will square off on Saturday, when Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks visit Embiid's Philadelphia 76ers.
Both were named Eastern Conference starters on Thursday, Antetokounmpo after finishing second in balloting to Cleveland's LeBron James. Antetokounmpo, who also started last year, is the first Buck since Marques Johnson in 1979 and '80 to start consecutive years.
"I think it's a great honor," Bucks coach Jason Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's well-deserved not just by the vote -- he would be in the game no matter what. That just shows his popularity here in a small market of being one of the top vote-getters in the league. He's likable on and off the floor."
Embiid is the first Sixer to be named an All-Star starter since Allen Iverson in 2006. He told Philly.com that he feels he is "blessed," and happily passed around credit to others.
"I think this is validation not only for me, but for the whole organization, especially after what we have been through for the last four years," Embiid told Philly.com. "So I'm not excited about myself. I'm excited for the whole city of Philadelphia and the fans world-wide."
Embiid collected 26 points, 16 rebounds and six assists as the Sixers held off Boston 89-80 on Thursday night, Philadelphia's first victory over the East-leading Celtics in four attempts this season.
Overall the Sixers have won six of seven games to improve to 21-20, the first time they have been over .500 at the season's midpoint since 2005-06.
The Bucks (23-21) find themselves in a bit of a tailspin, having lost three of four despite Antetokounmpo's all-around brilliance. He had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists Wednesday against Miami, but the Heat prevailed 106-101 behind Hassan Whiteside's 27-point, 13-rebound, six-block performance.
"He does care, he does want to win," Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said of Antetokounmpo, per the Journal Sentinel. "I think he said it before ... that he's going to be judged on winning. The great ones are. When you look at LeBron and Kobe (Bryant) and Michael (Jordan), the great ones are all judged on winning -- not how much money they've made, but winning."
The Bucks have been without forward Jabari Parker (left knee surgery) all season, but he is expected to return early in February.
Forward Mirza Teletovic has missed all but 10 games after undergoing surgery on his right knee and being diagnosed with blood clots in both lungs. It is unclear as to when he might return.
Philadelphia guard Markelle Fultz, the first overall pick in last summer's draft, has missed all but four games because of a shoulder injury. While there is no timetable for his return, he has ramped up his workouts in recent weeks.
Sixers guard J.J. Redick also missed the Boston game because of a leg injury, and will be out at least 10 days. Backup forward Richaun Holmes has been held out of the last two games because of illness and his status for Saturday's game is unknown.
Updated January 20, 2018