Bucks to play 76ers in Philadelphia on Christmas Day

For the sixth time in franchise history and second straight year, the Milwaukee Bucks will be featured on Christmas Day.

Last December, the Bucks played their first Christmas Day game since 1977 in New York against the Knicks. They’ll travel out east again next season to take on the 76ers in Philadelphia. It’s great the Bucks are back playing on X-mas, but it would’ve been nice to see them host.

The matchup features two of the best players in the NBA. The reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo and center Joel Embiid are set up to have a classic battle. As for the two teams, the Bucks and 76ers are expected to be the top two competing for a trip to the NBA Finals.

There are five total games being played on the Christmas Day slate. In addition to the Bucks playing the 76ers, the day will feature four other marquee games | The Los Angeles Lakers vs Los Angeles Clippers, the New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets, the Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets at the Golden State Warriors.

The Bucks are 3-2 all-time on December 25th. The defeated the Knicks 109-95 on Christmas last season. The full NBA schedule is expected to be released in a few weeks.

Bucks 108, Raptors 100: Last word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks took Game 1 from the Toronto Raptors with a 108-100 win at Fiserv Forum Wednesday night.

Player of the game: Brook Lopez

What more can you say about Splash Mountain? He was terrific for Milwaukee. Lopez finished with a team-high 29 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. He was also clutch. In the fourth quarter, Lopez knocked down 5-7 from the field including 3-5 from beyond the arc. He had 13 points in the final frame to help the Bucks pull away late.

“The thing that does stand out is the put-backs and the stuff around the basket, particularly in the first half,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We were kind of struggling for scoring and just anything offensively, and he was able to kind of manufacture a couple things. And obviously in the second half, the threes in the spread that he gives us. And then defensively, we’ll look at the tape, but I thought he was there several times in the fourth quarter, making blocks, making big-time contests, rebounding. Certainly, in a big moment, that was a great Brook Lopez tonight.”

“I knew, at some point, Brook was going to come through,” Eric Bledsoe said. “He’s been playing unbelievable defense throughout the whole playoffs. For him to break out an offensive game like this is huge for us.”

Coming into the Eastern Conference Finals, Lopez had only scored in double-figures three times in this year’s playoffs. He hasn’t made much of an impact offensively, until Wednesday night.

Milwaukee continues to prove they can win in so many different ways. Giannis Antetokounmpo is their star, MVP candidate, and leader, but they have multiple players that can step up in big games.

Play of the game: Lopez puts the Raptors away with a dagger

Down by one with less than three minutes to go, Lopez went on his own 5-0 run to put the Bucks up four. This capped off his 13 point fourth quarter and was the final blow Milwaukee needed to put Toronto away.


The good: Malcolm Brogdon

Brogdon played a solid game off the bench. He gave the Bucks a spark when they needed it. George Hill and Pat Connaughton each failed to score but Brogdon was able to pick up the slack. He finished with 15 points (5-9 FG, 3-6 3PT) in just under 27 minutes and had the highest +/- in the game (18).

Budenholzer will have an interesting decision to make whether he wants to insert Brogdon into the starting lineup sometime soon which would move Nikola Mirotic to the bench.

“He was phenomenal,” Budenholzer raved. “Again, the first half, I don’t think we were very good as a group, and Malcolm was one of those guys that kept us afloat. We already talked about Brook kind of keeping us afloat in the first half. And [Brogdon] really did it. I think what he’s doing defensively is impressive, too. His second game back after not playing for a significant period of time, it’s impressive. And we certainly needed him tonight.”

The not so good: Shaking off the rust

It was an ugly start for the Bucks. They’ve had a few starts like this before, especially after a long layoff. We saw it in Game 1 of Round 2 against the Boston Celtics. The Bucks strongly dislike having multiple days off. If it were up to Giannis, they would play every other day. Luckily for Milwaukee, they will play every other day in this series.

The Bucks saw a lot of good looks but couldn’t convert when they had opportunities. They shot just 39.8% from the field and 25% from three-point range. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they found success from beyond the arc. They knocked down five of their 11 makes from deep in the last 12 minutes of play. It was an impressive win despite the poor shooting night.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win…

I think we always talk about our defense. We start with it. I think the way that the guys competed and got after it defensively in the second half and particularly the fourth quarter just stands out to me. The depth, Malcolm coming off the bench and playing the way he did and all the different guys we got contributing. Then obviously a big game from Brook on both ends of the court. We feel like we can get better. To get this win after pretty significant days without playing, I think hopefully we’ll be better between now and Game 2.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse on whether the team was fatigued down the stretch coming off a seven-game series…

I don’t think so. I thought you could maybe think that or whatever, but I thought we were right there. I thought we answered a bunch of runs, and we were still there at like 100-98. Man, we had a couple great looks. We had a couple bad offensive possessions before that point, but we still clawed it back and we had a couple great looks there down the stretch. We had a couple good defensive possessions that didn’t end up going our way.

In case you missed it:

*The Bucks have now won five consecutive playoff games, which is tied for the second-longest winning streak in postseason franchise history and is the longest since 1974 (6 games).

*Milwaukee held Toronto to just 37% shooting as a team, marking the eighth time the Bucks have held an opponent to under 40% shooting this postseason.

*Lopez led the Bucks with a playoff-career-high 29 points (12-21 FG) and 11 rebounds, tallying his sixth career playoff double-double. This marks his first 20-point game of this year’s playoffs, and just his fourth 20-point game in his playoff career.

*Giannis scored 24 points and hauled in 14 rebounds. This was his fifth 20-point/10-rebound game of the postseason and the 10th of his playoff career. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Terry Cummings as the only players in franchise history to record 10 or more 20-point/10-rebound games in the playoffs.

*Khris Middleton tallied his third career playoff double-double as he scored 11 points and hauled in 11 boards.

*Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 31 points and nine rebounds, marking his eighth game of the playoffs with 30+ points.

*Kyle Lowry finished the night with 30 points, tallying his seventh career playoff game with 30+ points and his first since the 2016 playoffs.

*The Raptors also had Pascal Siakam (15) score in double figures.

What’s next?

The Bucks (1-0) will look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Raptors (0-1) on Friday night at Fiserv Forum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30pm.

Bucks 113, Celtics 101: Last word

BOSTON | The Milwaukee Bucks took a 3-1 series lead over the Boston Celtics with a 113-101 win Monday night.

Player of the game: Giannis Antetokounmpo

This might be the best game of Antetokounmpo’s playoff career. He finished with 39 points, 16 rebounds and four assists. Giannis is the leader of this team and when he’s on his game there is nobody that can stop him.

Play of the game: Fans in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a basketball town. There is no doubt about it. The Bucks’ fans have been terrific all season and are turning it up in the playoffs.

The good: Bench in the third quarter

The most crucial stretch of the game happened in the third quarter when Giannis and Khris Middleton each picked up their fourth foul. Led by George Hill, the bench wouldn’t only keep the Bucks in the game but would stretch the lead.

“If we’re honest if you see Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and Khris (Middleton) go to the bench you’re concerned, but certainly have a ton of confidence like we were just talking about that that group can play,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “They can really guard, and I think enough of them are finding ways to play offensively and you felt it kind of change and that maybe they were not only hold it tight but extend it. We actually rode them a little bit longer; we were thinking about bringing Khris or
Giannis back and that group just finished the quarter really well.”

“Its amazing. We’ve got 12 guys on the team and they are all great NBA players,” Giannis added. “It’s amazing to see that the bench can keep playing hard, keep defending hard and set the tone for us. I think I was on the bench, Khris (Middleton) was on the bench, (Eric) Bledsoe was on the bench and they’ve done a great job all season, they’ve been the difference maker in this series. It’s great to have guys that can step up like that from the bench.”

The not so good: The three ball

Milwaukee was just 8-37 (21.6%) from downtown on Monday. It was an uncharacteristic night for them, but they were able to overcome all the missed three-pointers. It did help that Boston was almost just as bad from beyond the arc. They converted on just 9-41 (22%) of their threes.

Stat of the game: 37.8% shooting for the Celtics

The Bucks stifling defense bothered Boston throughout the game, especially in the second half. Their rotation was terrific always putting a hand in the face of the open shooter. Defense has been their staple all season long and it came through in the biggest game of the year so far.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win…

I think the competitiveness of the group. For four quarters I think we’ve been down in the first quarter every game and second quarter we find a way to ride it a little bit, the third and fourth quarter just defensively I think our activity, our togetherness is just fueling everything we do. I thought a huge stretch of the game with Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and Khris (Middleton) both on the bench, as two of our leaders, the way that group was able to play on both ends and I think send us into the fourth quarter with a four or six point lead that was just a huge stretch for us and our group. I’m really pleased with the way they played, and I got to get ready to go back to Milwaukee and prepare and do it again.

Hill on taking two straight on the road…

It means we’re resilient. We knew they were going to be a hard fought battle. We knew they were going to take one of the best punches. We knew that we may get calls, we may not get calls. We said it before the game, just play through every whistle, stay together when they go on their run, and I think from one through the fifteenth guy, we did that.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens on how they approach Game 5

It’s win or go home.  You do the same thing you’ve been doing all along.  You play the next possession to win it and that’s it.  You focus on that.  It takes a lot of mental fortitude.  It takes a lot of mental toughness.  It reveals a lot.  I’m looking forward to that challenge.  We don’t want to be in this position but we are and we’ve got to go to Milwaukee and do everything we can to give ourselves another chance to play here on Friday night.

In case you missed it:

*Milwaukee scored 113 points, marking the third straight game in which Boston surrendered at least 100 points. The Celtics held their opponent to fewer than 100 points in four of their first five playoff games in 2019.

*Milwaukee outscored Boston, 33-23, in the third quarter and limited the Celtics to 7-for-21 shooting (1-11 3-PT) in the period. The Bucks have outscored the Celtics by an average of 13.3 points in third quarters over the last three games.

*Milwaukee’s bench outscored Boston’s reserves by 25 points (32-7). The Bucks also held advantages in points in the paint (66-44) and fast break points (22-13).

*Boston’s starting unit combined to score 94 of the team’s 101 points on 42.5% shooting. Kyrie Irving (23 points) and Al Horford (20 points) combined for 43 points.

What’s next?

The Bucks (3-1) will look to finish off the Celtics (1-3) in Game 5 on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum.

Bucks 116, Heat 87 : Last Word

Milwaukee | The Milwaukee Bucks took care of business at home against a possible first round playoff opponent, the Miami Heat 116-87.

Player of the game: Giannis Antetokounmpo

After missing the last two games, Giannis showed no signs of rust. He came out of the gate on fire scoring the first 11 points (5-5 FG) for the Bucks in the first quarter. Giannis finished with 27 points (12-19 FG), eight rebounds and seven assists. This was the 44th game of the season that he tallied at least 25 points. He continues to show why he’s an MVP candidate. Dwyane Wade has certainly noticed what Giannis has been doing.

Miami’s head coach Erik Spoelstra on trying to defend Giannis.

I think we had a couple traps where we were able to get clean possessions, but they have so much space and so much shooting that it makes it tough. They line up in all the spots that make it really tough to go get them. He’s really improved. That’s credit to the system and the coaching staff. He’s really improved dramatically as a passer. They can make up for bringing extra bodies in front of him.

Play of the game: Wade tribute video

Wade has had a remarkable career and is considered one of the top-five shooting guards in NBA history. Plus, he played his college ball right here in Milwaukee at Marquette. The Bucks honored him on what could be his last night playing in Milwaukee. The Heat are currently sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference and could be a potential first round match-up with the Bucks.

Khris Middleton talked about what Wade has meant to him as a player.

He’s definitely a mentor and someone I would watch from afar. I haven’t had too many conversations with him, but the ones that I have [had] meant a lot to me. [We talked about] his approach to the game and how he felt I should grow my game and how he grew his game as a young guy and an old guy.

The good: Health

Giannis started after missing the last two games. Also, guards George Hill and Sterling Brown returned to the floor. Hill played nearly 18 minutes and finished with eight points. Brown played close to 15 minutes and finished with four points. Both play excellent defense and can knock down shots from deep. After having only nine players available during Wednesday’s loss to the Cavaliers, Milwaukee saw eleven Bucks get minutes Friday night. Nobody hit the 29-minute mark.

The not so good: First quarter defense

Miami got off to a fast start offensively scoring 32 points in the first quarter. They converted on 12 of their 24 shots (50%) and knocked down six three-pointers. Eight players made at least one field goal in the first frame. The Bucks countered with terrific offense of their own, but you would like to see them get off to better starts on the defensive end. However, the defense was great over the next three quarters. Mike Budenholzer shared his thoughts on the defense early on.

I thought Miami really shot the ball well the first quarter. Maybe we could have a little more pressure on the ball, but I thought they shot it well and we were able to turn up our [defense] the last three quarters.

Stat of the game: 50

When the Bucks are on from beyond the arc, they are almost impossible to beat. That was the case Friday night. They hit 17 of their 34 attempts from downtown. Nine players hit at least one three and seven players hit at least two threes.

What they said:

Giannis on what winning the Central Division means to him

It’s a great accomplishment for the team, but we have to keep working. We have to be the number one seed and finish the season strong. We want to achieve other goals that we have as a team. We’re definitely going to celebrate it, but we can’t be satisfied and need to keep pushing forward.

Wade on his memories of playing at Marquette

Just having quick moments and memories and the good times I had here and this city. It was cool when they flashed to me, they caught me smiling and reminiscing on highlights. Especially during tournament time, there are a lot of thoughts and moments going back to that time in college. I appreciate it and thank you to the Bucks organization and the fans.

In case you missed it:

*The Bucks improve their NBA-best record to 54-19 and their Eastern Conference-best home record to 29-6.

*Friday night’s win secured a 3-1 season series win for the Bucks over the Heat. This is Milwaukee’s 16th season series win of the season (out of a possible 22), including its 10th (out of a possible 10) against Eastern Conference opponents.

*Milwaukee improves to 22-1 this season when shooting 50.0 percent or better. The Bucks have outshot their opponent in 54 games this season and own a 52-2 record in those contests.

*After hauling in 52 rebounds Friday night, the Bucks have tallied an NBA-high 40 games with 50+ rebounds, which is tied with the 2015-16 Oklahoma City Thunder for second-most in the NBA over the last 40 seasons.

*This was Milwaukee’s 10th win of the season by 20+ points. The Bucks have now won just under 75.0 percent of their games (74.1%) by double figures (40/54 games).

*Middleton dished out a season-high 10 assists and scored 18 points, tallying his seventh double-double of the season. Middleton has recorded a double-double in a career-high three consecutive games, with his seven double-doubles in 2018-19 matching his total from his first six seasons combined.

What’s next?

The Bucks (54-19) will look for revenge against the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-54) on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30pm.

Short-handed Bucks fall in Utah

The Milwaukee Bucks put forth a great effort in Utah but fell just short. The Jazz escaped with a four-point victory, 115-111.

Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon each sat out in what was the second of a back-to-back. Giannis Antetokounmpo gave a heroic effort with 43 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.

The Bucks led by as many as 17 with under 10 minutes remaining but couldn’t hold on. Second-year Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell dropped 19 of his 46 points in the final quarter.

The loss snapped a seven-game win streak for Milwaukee and ended a run of 10 straight road victories.

Next up, the Bucks will travel to Phoenix to take on the Suns on Monday.

The Joe & Ebo Experience: Bo Ryan Talks Hall of Fame

MADISON| Bo Ryan, legendary Wisconsin Basketball coach, is headed to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame

Despite watching a lot of basketball and golfing even more, Bo Ryan took a few minutes out of his morning to talk with the Joe & Ebo Show on some of his favorite memories, Badgers basketball and getting into the Hall of Fame.

Take a listen below to hear from the all-time winningest coach in Wisconsin Men’s Basketball history: