Ben Simmons and his Philadelphia 76ers have made a big Christmas Day statement by thumping NBA leaders Milwaukee Bucks 121-109.
There was a charged atmosphere for Philadelphia's first home Christmas game in 31 years, a matchup featuring Joel Embiid and Simmons against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
Centre Embiid outplayed Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, collecting 31 points and 11 rebounds to help the 3-point happy 76ers to triumph over their eastern conference frontrunners.
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Point guard Simmons chimed in with 15 points, also adding a whopping 14 assists and seven rebounds.
For the 76ers, Tobia Harris sank five 3-pointers, Josh Richardson and Furkan Korkmaz each had four and even Embiid hit three as part of Philly's season-high 21 (on 44 attempts).
Sitting fourth in the east, the 76ers improved their record to 23-10 (16-2 at home) while the Bucks remain best in the league at 27-5.
Embiid using the national showcase to play like an MVP, notching his seventh game this season with 30 points and 10 rebounds.
The fired-up Sixers took the biggest halftime lead (21 points) by any team against the Bucks under coach Mike Budenholzer.
76ers coach Brett Brown said before the game the Bucks were "NBA royalty" but his team showed they can be challenged
Ben Simmons has been obscenely good. Has 15/6/14 which is awesome in its own right, but I kinda think it’s underrated his impact. Bet tracking stats tell us he generated a ton more potential assists. Was integral in help shutting down driving lanes as a floating defensive player— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) December 25, 2019
Philly winning in a romp against Milwaukee today is not at all surprising. That isn't because the Bucks aren't great -- it's because it's another example of the 76ers swinging back & forth this year.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 25, 2019
Philly has the widest gap between floor & ceiling of any NBA team this season.
With fans chanting "Trust the Process!" on Embiid free throws, the All-Star centre was worthy of the holiday highlight video.
"I reminded our team, people in America have more appreciation for this day in the NBA," Brown said. "We're grateful for the opportunity."
Middleton scored 31 points and Antetokounmpo had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Antetokounmpo got flustered over a perceived missed call and was whistled for a technical in the fourth.
Celtics rout defending champion Raptors
Boston's Jaylen Brown celebrated Christmas with something he had never enjoyed before - a road win at Toronto.
Brown scored 30 points, Kemba Walker had 22 and the Celtics beat the Raptors 118-102 on Wednesday in the first Christmas Day NBA game played in Canada.
"It was good to get a win here on Christmas," said Brown, who made five 3-pointers and shot 10 for 13 from the field. "I've never won here period, so it was great to just get one."
Enes Kanter had 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Celtics snapped an eight-game losing streak north of the border and became the first Atlantic Division opponent to win in Toronto in more than four years.
The Celtics have won four straight to improve to 8-2 in December.
Boston's Gordon Hayward returned to the starting lineup after missing the past three games because of a sore left foot. He scored 14 points in 26 minutes.
"It's still a little sore but it's playable," Hayward said. "It's good, it's good."
Fred VanVleet scored 27 points in the Raptors' second straight loss while Chris Boucher had a career-high 24.