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.”