Bucks 140, Timberwolves 128: Last word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks turned on the gas in the fourth quarter to take down the Timberwolves 140-128.

Player of the Game: Khris Middleton

The Bucks’ second all-star took over in the second-half scoring 20 of his 28 in the final two quarters. Middleton added seven rebounds, three assists and knocked down four three-pointers. This is the kind of game that proves the “Max for Middleton” crowd’s argument that he deserves a max-contract offer from the Bucks this summer. He was key for Milwaukee to come away with the win Saturday night. Head coach Mike Budenholzer spoke about Middleton’s third-quarter.

We needed him to get hot and that was a huge stretch. When he starts popping two and three in a row it just changes the momentum, it was great for us to see that happen.

Play of the Game: Lopez puts Saric on a poster

This dunk rendered me speechless…

The Good: The finish

Milwaukee trailed Minnesota 109-107 after three quarters. They outscored the T-Wolves 33-19 in the final frame. The Bucks have proven all season they can “flip a switch” like what we see the Golden State Warriors do. Some games they allow a lesser opponent to hang around until they hit another gear and sprint to the finish line. You would like to see them play with the same focus and energy for 48 minutes. However, championship-level teams have another level they can take their game. The Bucks can hit another level and they’ll need to in the playoffs.

The not so Good: Defense (for the first three quarters)

The defense just wasn’t there Saturday for the Bucks. They allowed Minnesota to shoot 49% from the field and 46.2% from beyond the arc. Budenholzer was upset about the defensive effort and for good reason.

Not very happy with our defense but credit to our guys for finding a way to have a [pretty] decent defensive fourth quarter and make enough plays to win a game, but certainly not our best tonight.

It’s a good thing that the Bucks are terrific offensively. Milwaukee leads the NBA in opponent field goal percentage. They allow just 43% shooting per game. All that matters are wins and they got the win. What makes this team so dangerous is the fact they can win a variety of different ways.

The weird: Giannis gets stuffed

Anthony Tolliver? Really?

You just don’t see that every day. Giannis issued a warning to Tolliver next time he sees him.

That was a great play by him. Hopefully | I’m not going to see him this year, probably next year. I hope next year he’s not underneath the basket because I’m going to make sure the next time I get it done.

Stat of the Game: 140

Milwaukee reached 140 points for the fifth time this season.

Middleton said he attributes the scoring to the pace and the threes.

In Case You Missed It:

*The Bucks improve their NBA-best record to 45-14 and have now won 10 of their last 11 games. Milwaukee is 25-5 at home this season, which ties Toronto for the second-best home record in the league.

*The Bucks have surpassed last season’s win total of 44.

*Giannis tallied his NBA-high 29th game of the season with 25+ points on 50% shooting and 10 or more rebounds.

*Nikola Mirotic recorded his first double-figure scoring game with the Bucks as he scored 17 points (7-11 FG, 3-6 3FG) and grabbed six rebounds.

What’s next?

The Bucks (45-14) begin a five-game road-trip beginning in Chicago when the meet the Bulls (16-44) Monday night.

Bucks 98, Celtics 97: Last word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks overcame a slow start in their first game back from the All-Star break to hold off the Boston Celtics late in a 98-97 win at Fiserv Forum.

Player of the Game: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Who else would it be? Giannis continued to show why he’s an MVP candidate. He came up huge in another big game finishing with 30 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. 19 of those 30 points came in the second half. Head coach Mike Budenholzer talked about how Giannis was able to take over during cold stretches on offense.

“He had several big baskets. It felt like a couple times they cut it to two, we came out, he got a big basket in the paint. I didn’t love us offensively tonight and Giannis was able to will us a couple of baskets that were big, kind of kept us afloat.”

Chase-down blocks are becoming a thing for the Greek Freak as well. He had two Thursday night including one on Jayson Tatum with under six minutes to go in the game. Giannis said that he thought he was going to get dunked on but that it was a winning play.

Play of the Game: Khris Middleton three for the lead

Middleton had a rough night on the offensive-end but came up with a clutch shot to give Milwaukee a three-point lead late in the game. He put up 12 points in the first half but was held scoreless until he knocked this one down.

The Good: Defense

Boston was held to 38.2% shooting. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford combined for 17-48 from the field. The Bucks had to finish the game on the defensive-end. With 3.5 seconds left, the Celtics had a chance to win it, but Irving failed to convert on a floater.

The not so Good: Offense

It was a sloppy game for both teams. The Bucks showed some rust coming off the All-Star break. They finished the game with 15 turnovers, including 10 in the first-half. They shot just 42% from the field which is under their season average (47.9%).

The weird: Shot clock violation

With under four seconds to go, Marcus Smart was able to tie up Giannis with 0.2 seconds left on the shot clock to force a jump ball. Giannis won by tipping the ball to Brook Lopez, but it was ruled a shot-clock violation because Lopez had possession of the ball. This set up the Celtics for a shot to win it.

Stat of the Game: 8

Nikola Mirotic made his debut for the Bucks. He finished with eight points in 14 minutes off the bench. He said that he felt great.

“I felt great. To be honest, a little bit nervous but the crowd showed me huge support and the teammates were great to me. For me the biggest thing was to win.”

There is no doubt that Mirotic fits this team perfectly. He is a versatile big-man that can space the floor and be a target for Giannis when he gets doubled in the lane.

In Case You Missed It:

*The win gave the Bucks the season series over the Celtics 2-1.

*Celtics forward Gordon Hayward did not play after spraining his right ankle during a workout on Tuesday.

*Milwaukee is 9-1 in their last 10 games.

What’s next?

The Bucks (44-14) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (27-30) on Saturday night.

Giannis’ triple-double leads Bucks to 106-97 win over Indy

For the first time in franchise history the Milwaukee Bucks are 29 games over the .500 mark heading into the All-Star break. The Bucks halted the Pacers’ six-game win streak with a 106-97 win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was held to a season-low 12 points the last time these two teams faced off on December 12th. He was determined to change the script this time around. Giannis got off to a fast start dominating from the tip. He had his fifth triple-double of the season finishing with a game-high 33 points, 19 rebounds and 11 assists.

Indiana set the pace in the third quarter outscoring Milwaukee 32-21 as they carried a 79-76 lead into the fourth. The Pacers continued their dominance early in the final frame as they jumped out to a 7-0 run.

Milwaukee answered with a 30-11 run over the final nine minutes of the contest. The Bucks have proven all year long that they are never out of a game.

Next up, Giannis and Khris Middleton will represent the Bucks at All-Star Weekend. Milwaukee will return to Fiserv Forum on Thursday, February 21st when they host the Boston Celtics.

Giannis scores 29 in Bucks 112-99 win over Bulls

Milwaukee improved to an NBA-best 42-14 overall and 14-0 following a loss with a 112-99 win in Chicago against the Bulls.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks with 29 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists. It was his 12th 25-Point, 15-Rebound, 5-Assist game this season tying Shaquille O’Neal for the most 25-Point, 15-Rebound, 5-Assist games in a single season since the NBA-ABA Merger (1976-77).

Zach Lavine had 27 points, five rebounds, and seven assists as the Bulls held their own pulling within three points late in the fourth (100-97). Milwaukee answered with a 12-0 run to close the door on Chicago.

It wasn’t the prettiest win we’ve seen from the Bucks this season. They shot just 31.8% from beyond the arc and committed 17 turnovers. All that matters though is the end-result and that’s a win.

Milwaukee will travel to Indiana to play the Pacers Wednesday for their last game before the All-Star break.

Bucks top Hawks 117-106

ATLANTA | The Milwaukee Bucks improved to 4-2 with a 117-106 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon.

The win was in large part thanks to another strong effort from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. He had 33 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in the win. Milwaukee also got help from forward Chris Middleton, who finished with 27 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists on the day.

In all, the Bucks totaled five players in double-figures scoring wise. Forward John Henson and guard Rashad Vaughn had 12 points each, and starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon had 16.

Atlanta was lead by forward Taurean Price, who finished the game with 17 points. The Hawks drop to 1-6 with the loss.

Milwaukee will be in action next on Tuesday evening at home. They host the Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Tip-off is at 7PM.

Bucks drop to Celtics 96-89: Last shots

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks turned back the clock in the ‘Return to the MECCA’ game on Thursday night. Their 96-89 loss to the Boston Celtics was played at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, right across the street from their usual home, The BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Milwaukee struggled to find consistency throughout the evening, trailing by as many as 12, and holding a lead as high as seven. The loss drops the Bucks to 3-2 on the young season. Boston moves to 3-2 as well with the win.

Here are 16 last shots for the 16 playoff appearances the Bucks enjoyed while calling the MECCA home from 1968-1988.

1. Milwaukee is a young team that struggled to find a consistent flow throughout the night offensively. There are going to be plenty more nights like this one as the season rolls on. Boston did a good job of containing Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first half, limiting him to only 11 points, three rebounds, and four assists. Celtics’ forward Al Horford was able to force Antetokounmpo into some tough shots, disrupting the entire rhythm of the offense.

2. Milwaukee’s offense is at its best when it’s out in transition. There are times when the Bucks over dribble in the half court, and head coach Jason Kidd said that he thought Thursday was one of those nights. “We had some good looks, I just thought we over-dribbled,” Kidd explained. “I thought the ball just didn’t move tonight as it has in the first couple of games.”

3. Guard Malcom Brogdon agreed with what Kidd had to say about the ball movement after the game. “Just be unselfish. Just move the ball,” Brogdon answered when asked how the team can improve the ball movement. “We have to be conscious of that as the game goes on and shots stop to fall. We get stagnant. We have to know to move the ball and trust each other.”

4. After being pretty much contained in the first half, Antetokounmpo played better after the break.  He totaled 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in the second half. It was there that he looked like the same player fans saw in the first four games.

5. Antetokounmpo’s final stat line for the night was 28 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. He’s had a double-double in all five games so far on the season. He’s also been Milwaukee’s leading scorer in each contest. Antetokounmpo also had three steals and a block on the night.

6. Brogdon returned to action after missing the team’s win over Charlotte on Monday night. He didn’t look bothered at all by his ankle injury that kept him out of that game. Brogdon finished with 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists. He played nearly 36 minutes, second to only Antetokounmpo, who was on the court for 41 minutes Thursday evening.

7. Forward Khris Middleton also had 15 points for Milwaukee, however he was rather inefficient, needing 16 shots to reach that mark. Middleton was 7 of 16 from the floor and only 1 of 3 from behind the arc. He needs to become more consistent shooting the basketball if the Bucks are going to be successful on the offensive end, especially when they struggle to break out into transition.

8. While it can be easy to pick on Middleton’s inconsistent shooting, Milwaukee did have a good night from the outside. The Bucks finished 11-25 from deep, which is a mark that they need to be around more often. If this team can knock down those shots, it gives Antetokounmpo much more room to operate near the basket.

9. A big reason that Boston was able to pull out the win over Milwaukee was the play of Horford. He was outstanding on the offensive end, and did a solid job defending Antetokounmpo. “Horford can move his feet,” Kidd said. “You’ve got to give him credit. They packed the paint and made it extremely tough on Giannis [Antetokounmpo].”

10. Offensively, Horford finished with a team-high 27 points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. He shot 11 of 14 from the floor, including 4 of 5 from behind the arc. Horford knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter that seemed to be the turning point in the game.

11. “Yeah, I really have to give all the credit to [Boston guard] Marcus Smart on that,” Horford said about his 3-pointers. “He just sees the game in ways that a lot of times we don’t even see it. He recognized that my guy was kind of falling asleep on the weak side. [Smart] got me open there for back-to-back threes and I felt like that was a big turning point in the game.”

12. The second biggest reason that Boston was able to win was the play of guard Kyrie Irving. He finished with 24 points on 10 of 18 shooting, including some incredible maneuvers to the hoop and finishes. Irving is without question one of the best ball-handlers in the NBA, and likely the best below-the-rim finisher in the league today, if not ever. He also had a team-high seven assists.

13. Irving did make news earlier in the day at shoot-around when he made it seem as if he thought the game being played at the MECCA was being played on the original floor from back in the 1970s and 1980s. He caught plenty of grief for that on social media, and deservedly so. While Irving was warming up with about 45 minutes until game time, fans could be heard yelling his way, asking if he was alright out there on the court.

14. Even though he was worried about it beforehand, he did have good things to say following the game. “It was great to see the intimacy of those seats out there as well as the fans kind of being right on top of us,” Irving said. “I enjoy environments like that. It was definitely great to be out there on that floor.”

15. The two teams have already met twice in the first five games of the season, each winning on the road. Obviously, matchups in October shouldn’t be overly looked into, seeing as how much can change between now and the start of the playoffs in April. That being said, a 7-game series between these two teams would be fun for everybody involved.

16. The Bucks will be in action next on Sunday in Atlanta taking on the Hawks (1-4). They return to the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Halloween to face reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Bucks continue to roll, beat Sacramento 116-98

Milwaukee continued its move up in the Eastern Conference playoff picture Wednesday night with a 116-98 win at Sacramento.

The game was the final one in a six-game road trip that the Bucks finished 4-2 on, leaving them tied for the No. 6 spot with Indiana and just a game back of the five-seed Atlanta with 11 games to go.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated a listless Kings squad, scoring a game-high 32 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out six assists as the Bucks won for a 10th time in their last 12 games.

Center Greg Monroe added 15 points and five rebounds off the bench, while Khris Middleton and Mirza Teletovic scored 13 points each.

Sacramento was paced by rookie Buddy Hield’s 21 points.

Milwaukee will now head back home to face Atlanta on Friday night, followed by a visit from the Chicago Bulls. Both teams are, like the Bucks, fighting for the final few playoff spots in the East.

Bucks fall to the Cavaliers for a second straight night

For the second straight night, the Milwaukee Bucks fell to the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, this time 113-102.

Playing without forward Kevin Love and guard J.R. Smith, the Cavs turned to their main two stars to lead them to victory. LeBron James scored 29 points and had nine rebounds, while Kyrie Irving poured in 31 points and dished out 13 assists to help Cleveland sweep the home-and-home series with Milwaukee.

The Bucks big two — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker — combined for 55 points, but the rest of the starting lineup added just seven points, while rookie Malcom Brogdon was the third-leading scorer, coming off the bench to chip in 11.

Though the playoffs are still quite far down the road — it’s only December of course — the two teams could see each other once April rolls around. If the postseason started today, Milwaukee would be the No. 8 seed and face the top-seeded Cavaliers.

Many wouldn’t think that would be an interesting series, but Cleveland has apparently set its sights on the Bucks after Milwaukee crushed them in their first meeting of the year.

“I hope, man. I hope,” Irving said after the game, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “They’re a great young team. It would be great to four games against them. I’m fired up to go against them every time now, for real. Ever since they kicked our ass in Milwaukee, it’s been personal, and it’s going to continue to be personal.”