BucksCap Special: Bucks Start Final Push With A Bang
Milwaukee Bucks began the final stretch of games for the season on Thursday night against the Detroit Pistons. Milwaukee did not trail after being down 6-5 in the early part of the first quarter. Other than that, Milwaukee routed Detroit. Bucks also dominated Philadelphia in the second half with a punishing 119-98 victory. Bucks are winners of their first two games after the All-Star Break and gaining momentum again as the final weeks of the regular season are about to begin. Here were some observations I made by watching the extended highlights of each game.
1. Giannis needed some rest – With the grind of the regular season plus a newborn child, Giannis Antetokounmpo needed some time away from the game of basketball. He looked very fresh in both games, Detroit and Philadelphia, and he delivered similar stat lines. On Thursday, Giannis had 33 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists. He made 13-of-23 shots attempted. Saturday with the bright lights of primetime, Antetokounmpo scored 31 points, 17 rebounds, and eight assists. Not surprising to any of us, but Antetokounmpo looked like the best player on the floor each night.
2. Khris Middleton continues to play like a top-15 player – Again, I welcome your apologies to Khris Middleton. He is putting together an elite year of basketball. Will people ever credit him? Probably not. I swear it’s going to take Middleton going crazy in a Game 6 for people to understand how he figured it out this year. Milwaukee is unlocking his potential with more mid-range and pick-and-roll opportunities. That’s exactly the type of player Khris wants to be on a nightly basis.
3. Giannis showed off his ‘bag’ or whatever the fuck that means – Earlier in the week, we had people say that Giannis didn’t have a bag. Another podcast wondered if he had a Kawhi Leonard-like kill shot in his arsenal aka his bag. What was telling about those comments were the people who missed the last month of Bucks games where Antetokounmpo is starting to show off this fadeaway jumper that is lethal and unstoppable. Cannot wait for those same people to be like ‘Oh, I didn’t know Giannis had that in him!’
4. Robin Lopez continues to be an asset against Philly – I wouldn’t call him a secret weapon, but it appears that Milwaukee figured out that Philadelphia struggles with Robin Lopez on the floor. In his two games against Philly in February, Lopez played 18 and 20 minutes with 12 and 9 points total. He is a matchup problem for the Sixers which is an unexpected wrinkle into the Bucks season.
5. Bledsoe put in work on Thursday – Truly a nice game from Eric Bledsoe on Thursday night. Derrick Rose is having a great year in Detroit, but he is no match defensively for Bledsoe. He finished with 19 points and six assists.
Next up: Milwaukee heads to Washington for a matchup with the Wizards. It is the second game of a back-to-back for Washington. Not to mention, they had to travel to D.C. like Milwaukee from Chicago late last night. I cannot think of a better spot for Milwaukee. Fingers crossed they blow them out early and the boys can rest up for Tuesday’s showdown against Toronto.