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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.

Report: Bucks remain on the “fringes” of Kyrie trade

If the Boston-Cleveland trade falls through for Kyrie Irving, the Bucks are one of several teams who still might have a shot at the All-Star.

The trade hasn’t been completed due to the Cleveland Cavaliers questions over Isaiah Thomas and his hip injury. The Bucks were one of the handful of teams that would be vying for Irving according to a report by ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

The Bucks have previously offered Malcolm Brogdon, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, and veteran Khris Middleton.

That trade was weighed heavily by the Cavaliers before  agreeing to terms with the Boston Celtics. According to Lowe, he believes if the Bucks threw in a future first round pick, that would ultimately get the deal done.

The Bucks are reluctant to throw in a first round pick, because they don’t believe Irving would likely sign long-term. Irving, 25, is entering the prime of his career and has two years left on his current contract.

Other teams in the mix if the deal doesn’t go through are the Denver Nuggets and the  Phoenix Suns

Report: Bucks interested in Kyrie Irving, but Giannis “untouchable”

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 20, and could be taking on the former world champions with one of their star players.

A report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicates the Bucks have expressed interest in point guard Kyrie Irving, who earlier this summer voiced his preference to be traded from the Cavaliers. That report also indicated that Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only player Milwaukee considers “untouchable” and all other options are on the table.

The problem for Milwaukee is cap space. They have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA with roughly $14.5 million left before the luxury tax kicks in. That likely means the Bucks would need to give up more talent in order to make a trade for Irving, the top overall pick of the 2011 Draft.

This page will be updated as more is reported.

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.”