Milwaukee Bucks beat shorthanded Celtics 106-102

The Milwaukee Bucks were quickly able to put the puzzling loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night in the rearview mirror on Tuesday. Milwaukee knocked off the shorthanded Boston Celtics in the team’s return to the Bradley Center following a four-game road trip.

All-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 29 points and made a tremendous block of Boston’s Jaylen Brown in the fourth quarter to help preserve the win. Khris Middleton added in 20 points and nine assists to help the Bucks claim victory.

The Celtics entered the game as winners of the past six games, but were without Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier III.

The win for Milwaukee moves the Bucks into a tie for sixth-place in the Eastern Conference. Due to tie-breaking scenarios, they would be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs if the season ended today. Milwaukee is tied with the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat.

The Bucks are back in action on Thursday night for the second-to-last regular season at the BMO Harris Bradley Center against the Brooklyn Nets. Tip-off is set for 7pm CT.

Bucks open up road trip with loss to Clippers

The Milwaukee Bucks held a two-point advantage when the fourth quarter started against the Clippers on Tuesday night. LA outscored Milwaukee 27-16 the rest of the way to hand the Bucks a loss by a final score of 105-98.

All-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was the game’s high-scorer with 26 points to go along with nine rebounds, seven assists, and five blocks in an all-around effort. Milwaukee’s problem was shutting down the Clippers from behind the 3-point arc. When the two teams squared off last week in Milwaukee the Clippers knocked down 15 3s. On Tuesday night the Clippers repeated that effort, finishing 15-of-28 shooting from deep.

After another poor start to the game, the Bucks were able to climb back in the third quarter, outscoring the Clippers by 10 to erase a six-point halftime deficit. Much has been made about the slow starts for Milwaukee, but Tuesday was a poor finish that did the Bucks in.

Tobias Harris had a team-high 19 points for the Clippers and center DeAndre Jordan scored 12 points and recorded 16 rebounds in the victory. Harris was one of four LA players to knock down three or more 3-pointers in the game.

Milwaukee falls from seventh place in the Eastern Conference to eighth due to not only its loss, but also Miami’s win over Cleveland on Tuesday. The Bucks are back in action on Thursday night in Oakland, Calif. against the Golden State Warriors.

Examining Milwaukee’s west coast trip

A few weeks back, we went and looked at the games the Milwaukee Bucks should win, could go either way, and those that would likely be losses as the playoffs approach. With nine games remaining the Bucks are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, holding a lead of a half-game over the Miami Heat.

With the playoffs right around the corner, and the battle for playoff seeding ongoing for the Bucks, it was decided to take a look at the west coast road trip Milwaukee is embarking on. The Bucks start things off with the Clippers and finish up with the Nuggets, while making stops against Golden State and Los Angeles in between.

To see the previous list, click here.

1. 3/27 @ LA Clippers

The Bucks faced the Clippers less than a week before facing them for the second and final time. LA raced out to a double-digit lead after the first quarter and never looked back, handing Milwaukee a 127-120 loss. When the two teams meet on Tuesday in Los Angeles, the stakes will be just as high for each team. The Clippers currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference, two games behind eighth place Minnesota with nine games remaining.

The Bucks and Clippers are similar teams in terms of talent, although the Bucks may have underachieved more than the Clippers this season. This is a game that could go either way. A win by the Clippers in similar fashion to the first matchup would be a surprise to no one, but neither would a Milwaukee victory.

2. 3/29 @ Golden State Warriors

When the original list was released a few weeks ago, this game was listed as a likely loss for the Bucks. Since that was stated, Warriors guard Steph Curry has been injured twice, including a regular season ending knee injury, guard Klay Thompson has fractured his thumb, forward Kevin Durant has injured his ribs, and forward Draymond Green has missed time.

Green will be expected to play when the Bucks visit Golden State, and Curry will not be on the floor. As for Durant and Thompson, there’s a chance those two suit up for the first time in a few weeks when the Warriors and Bucks square off. If Durant and Thompson play, it’s still a winnable game for the Bucks. If those two aren’t in action, then the Bucks should win this game due to Golden State’s lack of star power.

3. 3/30 @ Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers went through a stretch post all-star break where they were playing really good basketball. Since then, they’ve cooled off and will very likely finish with a losing record for the fifth consecutive season. Before the Lakers’ loss to Detroit on Monday, rookie guard Lonzo Ball had been experiencing his toughest shooting stretch of the season. The Lakers have also been without rookie Josh Hart and sixth-man Isaiah Thomas as of late.

The Bucks are certainly the better team in this matchup but playing games on back-to-back nights is never an easy thing, despite Milwaukee having one of the NBA’s best records in those situations. If this game were played on regular rest for the Bucks it would be a game they should win, but the back-to-back makes it more difficult. It’s still a very winnable game for Milwaukee, just not one that would result in a stunning loss.

4. 4/1 @ Denver Nuggets

Denver has had an opportunity to grasp playoff positioning out west over the past couple of weeks and failed to do so. The Nuggets have had bad losses to the Lakers, Grizzles, and Heat in the past few weeks. Denver is still talented, there’s no disputing that, but their defense has been less than stellar as of late, allowing 120 or more points in three out of four games.

When these teams matched up prior to the all-star break the Nuggets were playing basketball than they are now. This is a winnable game for the Bucks, just as the prior one was, but Denver still has offensive firepower in the form of Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap. When this game rolls around, the Nuggets may be fighting for their playoff lives.

Last shots: Bucks 106, Spurs 103

MILWAUKEE | Eighteen last shots for the 18 free throws attempted by Milwaukee in its 106-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon.

1. The team that wore the cream-colored jerseys Sunday afternoon at the BMO Harris Bradley Center was the incarnation of the Milwaukee Bucks that many expected to see this season.

2. To this point, it’s fair to say that the Bucks have underachieved. Milwaukee is in a battle with the Miami Heat for the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. Many thought that this season the Bucks would be competing for home court advantage in the first round, but that ship has all but sailed. Milwaukee trails fourth-place Philadelphia by three-and-a-half games with nine games remaining. While that dream isn’t officially dead, it’s on life support, and not looking good.

3. On Sunday the Bucks fired on all cylinders as they held off a late surge by the San Antonio Spurs to cap off a much-needed victory. The Bucks entered the game losers of three of the last five contests, and had not been playing well, even in the victories against Chicago and Atlanta, two of the NBA’s bottom-feeder teams this season.

4. Sunday was the opposite of many things that had plagued the Bucks recently. Milwaukee got off to a fast start, building a 13-point first quarter lead. As of late, the Bucks have struggled to start games. Milwaukee trailed by double-digits in each of the past two games in the first quarter. It’s a trend that had not been going Milwaukee’s way for quite some time.

5. Milwaukee led 27-15 after the first quarter before allowing the Spurs to storm back in the second quarter to head into halftime tied at 47. San Antonio settled down after an abysmal shooting performance in the opening period. It was bound to happen, after all, the Spurs are perpetually a contender for a reason.

6. The third quarter was similar to the first, with the Bucks outscoring San Antonio 41-28 to take a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter. Eric Bledsoe was outstanding in the third for the Bucks. He had 11 of his 23 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the quarter. Bledsoe has been one of the most explosive players on the court for much of the season, but it hasn’t always translated to positive outcomes. With that being said, on Sunday it did.

7. The fourth quarter saw the Bucks have to hold off the Spurs. No one would have expected San Antonio to go away quietly, and they didn’t. The Spurs were down by 15 points with 8:02 left in the game, but closed things out on a 22-10 run, it just wasn’t enough. The Spurs had an opportunity to tie the game as time expired, but Khris Middleton got a piece of Dejonte Murray’s 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds left.

8. All-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was able to play at less than 100 percent after he suffered a sprained right ankle on Wednesday night against the Clippers. He missed Friday’s game in Chicago but felt strong enough to play on Sunday.

9. “It felt good. It’s not 100 percent, but I felt like I could still help my teammates, and that’s what I did tonight,” Antetokounmpo said after the game. “Hopefully moving forward I can feel a lot better.”

10. Antetokounmpo finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists in the win. He was 9-of-16 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. When Antetokounmpo is knocking down 3s, he’s unstoppable. The problem with that is he’s a 29.5 percent shooter from deep.

11. Milwaukee will need to continue to get team efforts like this one down the stretch of the season as they fight for playoff positioning. The best-case scenario for the Bucks would be to land as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Toronto Raptors will likely finish with the best record in the conference and the Boston Celtics will finish second.

12. The Raptors have been the best team in the conference all year, and a team that would be hard for the Bucks to matchup with. The Boston Celtics are an entirely different story, however. Celtics guard Kyrie Irving underwent a knee procedure on Saturday, leaving his availability for the start of the playoffs in doubt. He’s expected to return to basketball activity in three-to-six weeks according to the team. The first round of the playoffs begins on April 14th.

13. If Irving were to be healthy, things would be very difficult in the series for Milwaukee. Taking away Boston’s best player for all, or some of the series, would improve Milwaukee’s chances exponentially. That becomes a winnable series for the Bucks if Irving is absent. If Kyrie is 100 percent healthy and playing, things look rather bleak for Milwaukee. While he very well may play in that series, he’s unlikely to be 100 percent.

14. Milwaukee’s win combined with Miami’s overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers pushed the Bucks into the No. 7 seed for the time being. They lead Miami by a half-game with nine games left to play. The Bucks do need to finish a full game ahead of the Heat to secure that place in the conference due to Miami holding the tiebreaker over Milwaukee by virtue of sweeping the season series 3-0.

15. Milwaukee now heads out west for a four-game road trip beginning with the LA Clippers on Tuesday night. They’ll then head to Oakland for a matchup with the Warriors before returning to Los Angeles to face the Lakers and finishing up the trip with a date with Denver on April 1st.

16. This will be a very tough trip for Milwaukee, finishing it 2-2 would be considered a success. The Clippers just ran the Bucks off the floor in Milwaukee but are comparable to the Bucks in terms of talent. The game against the Warriors is much more winnable after two-time MVP Stephen Curry sprained the MCL in his left knee this week. He will not play against the Bucks, and the status for all-stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson is unknown.

17. Again, things will be tough out west, but if the Bucks team that showed up on Sunday makes the trip, then success is possible. If that’s not the case, Milwaukee will struggle.

18. Tip-off against the Clippers is set for 9 p.m. CT on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Bucks beat Bulls 118-105

Thanks to key efforts from reserves Shabazz Muhammad, Tony Snell, and Brandon Jennings, the Milwaukee Bucks were able to survive against the Chicago Bulls without all-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Muhammad scored 21 points in 20 minutes, Snell was a perfect 6-of-6 shooting for 18 points, and Jennings added in 16 points and five assists in the win. Milwaukee overcame a sluggish start and foul trouble to guard Eric Bledsoe in order to take the victory. Bledsoe finished with 13 points in just 20 minutes of action.

Chicago was led by Denzel Valentine with 20 points on the evening. The Bulls did race out to a 34-24 lead after the first quarter, but Milwaukee tied things up before the first half was over, entering halftime at 61-61.

Bucks forward Jabari Parker started his first game of this season due to the absence of Antetokounmpo. He played 30 minutes for the second consecutive game, which is the most he has appeared in a game this season. Parker finished with six points due to a rough shooting night. He was 3-of-10 from the floor.

Milwaukee’s win moves the Bucks to within a half game of the Miami Heat for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks are back in action on Sunday afternoon at home against the San Antonio Spurs.

Last shots: Clippers 127, Bucks 120

MILWAUKEE | Twenty last shots for the 20 point effort by Bucks forward Jabari Parker in Milwaukee’s 127-120 loss to the LA Clippers on Wednesday night.

1. When All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo exited the game after twisting his right ankle with four minutes remaining in the second quarter things were looking up for Milwaukee. They were trailing by eight at the time, but had cut a 16-point LA lead in half.

2. Antetokounmpo limped off and back to the locker room and did not return. Milwaukee made another run at the start of the third quarter on an 8-0 run to come within two points of the Clippers but could not get past that. LA quickly pushed the lead back to up to 15 points.

3. The Bucks put forth a strong fourth quarter and did have an opportunity to steal the game from the Clippers. Milwaukee cut the lead to four points with 1:21 remaining in regulation on a Thon Maker dunk. It was set up by a steal from Khris Middleton after he hit put in a layup. After Maker’s dunk LA coach Doc Rivers immediately called for timeout.

4. Middleton finished with a team-high 23 points on the night.

5. Out of the timeout, Rivers’ son, Austin, knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the night to put the Clippers back in front by seven points. It was a dagger right in front of the Milwaukee bench.

6. That 3-pointer by Rivers was LA’s 15th and final of the contest. They outscored Milwaukee 45-24 from deep. That’s an area that haunted the Bucks in the loss on Monday night against Cleveland as well. They were outscored 45-24 from behind the arc in that game, as well.

7. “Honestly, we’ve just got to be able to play against them,” forward Jabari Parker said about the team’s 3-point defense. “That’s not specific defense, that’s just trying to make it hard for them on offense.”

8. Parker did play a season-high in minutes, partly due to the second half absence of Antetokounmpo. He had 20 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench for Milwaukee.

9. Not only did the Bucks struggle to defend the 3-point line in the second half, where the Clippers were 9-of-15, but they failed to defend the paint in the first half. LA’s DeAndre Jordan had a monstorous first quarter for the Clippers. He had a double-double before the game’s first 12 minutes were over, having 14 points and 10 rebounds in that period alone. He finished with 25 points and 22 rebounds.

10. In that first quarter the Bucks allowed 24 of LA’s 38 points to come in the paint. They were also outrebounded 17 to 6. They put more emphasis on the pereimteter early on, which led to the opportunities for Jordan. The second half saw those priorities flipped, which led to a combined 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting by Rivers and 6th Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams.

11. Lately, the Bucks haven’t done much to make things hard offensively for opponents. In six of the last seven games Milwaukee’s opponent has scored 110 points or more. The lone exception was the game against the Memphis Grizzles, when Milwaukee allowed 103 points.

12. Over that stretch the Bucks have allowed an average of 117 points per game. That’s a number that’s far to high for a team with a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Antetokounmpo. The Bucks should not be allowing as many points as they are. There’s no excuse for it.

13. In fact, the only teams that they’ve played in the past seven games that have offenses in the top ten in the NBA in terms of offensive rating are Houston, Cleveland, and LA. Milwaukee allowed 110 points or more to Atlanta (26th), Orlando (25th), and New York (22nd). That needs to stop, even if Milwaukee was able to outscore two of those three teams.

14. Let’s state the obvious: Milwaukee is not going to win games against quality competition without Antetokounmpo. Few teams are able to survive without the player that they’re built around. There may be exceptions from time to time on short-term instances. Over the long-haul stars win in the NBA, and that’s what Antetokounmpo is, and even that hasn’t been enough lately for Milwaukee.

15. After the game, interim head coach Joe Prunty did not have an official update on the status of Antetokounmpo. He was seen walking out of the locker room under his own power, although there was an obvious limp as he favored his right leg. For what it’s worth, Antetokounmpo also had a puppy in his hands when he left. Dogs tend to make people happier, but to my knowledge they do not have the power to heal sprained ankles.

16. Luckily for the Bucks, they still hold a five-game lead over ninth-place Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Each team has 11 games left remaining, however the tiebreaker is not yet settled. The two teams split the regular season series, with each team winning twice. The next step in the tiebreaker procedure is record within the division, and the Pistons currently lead the Bucks by two games in that category.

17. It would take a monumental collapse for the Bucks to miss out on the playoffs. The magic number for Milwaukee is currently six. That means any combination of Milwaukee wins and Detroit losses that equal six would clinch the eight-seed for the Bucks.

18. The Bucks are a near-lock for the playoffs, but the recent play and the question of the injury to Antetokounmpo certainly bring the question up, and understandably so.

19. Tonight’s loss hurts Milwaukee more in terms of seeding positioning as the Miami Heat moved 1.5 games ahead of them. That’s not an insurmountable lead with 11 games remaining, but Miami does own the tiebreaker over Milwaukee. The Heat defeated the Bucks all three times the teams squared off this season. That means that the Bucks would have to finish a full game ahead of Miami in order to finish in seventh place. With the tiebreaker factored in, Miami’s magic number to clinch seventh place in the Eastern Conference is nine.

20. The Bucks are back in action on Friday night in Chicago, Ill. against the Bulls at the United Center. Chicago is currently 24-47 on the season and has lost three in a row.

Bucks fall to Cavaliers 124-117

All-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 37 points and collected 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to outshine LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James finished with 40 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in Cleveland’s 124-117 win over Milwaukee on Monday night.

The Bucks found themselves within single-digits at the start of the fourth quarter while James was resting on the bench for the Cavaliers. Cleveland’s second-unit opened up the final period on a 12-5 run to take a 15-point advantage right after James checked back in and put the game out of reach.

Milwaukee made a run late to close the score within six, but it was too little too late for the Bucks. The Cavaliers hit their free throws at the end of the game to ensure that Milwaukee’s comeback did not make a difference in the result.

Forward Khris Middleton scored 30 points for Milwaukee on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, but the Bucks were ultimately outscored 45-24 from behind the arc. Milwaukee was also out-rebounded by Cleveland 42-32, including 12 offensive rebounds by the Cavaliers leading to 19 second-chance points.

The loss dropped Milwaukee to 37-33 on the season. The Bucks are now in eighth place in the Eastern Conference after the Miami Heat defeated the Denver Nuggets in double-overtime to take a half-game lead over the Bucks for seventh place.

Forecasting Milwaukee’s playoff seed

The Milwaukee Bucks would need a stunning, monumental collapse to miss the playoffs. Milwaukee has 13 games remaining in the regular season and has a seven-game lead over the Detroit Pistons, the current ninth-place team in the Eastern Conference.

The Eastern Conference playoff teams are all but set, the seeding is far from decided, however.

The top two seeds are likely set, as Toronto holds the top spot with a lead of five games over the second-place Boston Celtics. The Celtics hold a six-game lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are the team currently in third.

Things become very interesting with the six teams currently between Cleveland and Miami. There are currently 3.5 games separating the Cavaliers and the Heat, with Indiana, Washington, and Philadelphia all with in 1.5 games of the three-seed. Milwaukee and Miami sit behind them, currently in seventh and eighth, respectively.

The Bucks may have a tough road to get much higher than they currently are, although that’s certainly possible looking at the remainder of their schedule.

Milwaukee has the pleasure of finishing up their season with three of their final four games against Brooklyn, New York, and Orlando. Those three teams are in the race for the first overall pick in the NBA draft this upcoming summer. The final game of the season is against the Philadelphia 76ers, which could make things very interesting.

The Bucks face only two other teams the remainder of the season that are not either firmly in the playoffs or fighting for a spot. They play the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, both on the road. In fact, eight of Milwaukee’s final 13 games are away from the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. The Bucks are 15-18 on the road so far this season.

It’s hard to predict exactly how the Bucks will finish the season out considering how inconsistent they have been this season. They’re going to need help to climb out of a matchup with one of the two top seeds in the east, as well as keeping their first-round pick in the draft this summer.

Milwaukee traded away a protected first-round draft pick when acquiring Eric Bledsoe earlier this season. If the pick falls between the first selection and the sixteenth, the Suns receive it. If not, the Bucks keep it. In order to ensure the pick stays in Milwaukee, the Bucks need to finish no worse than sixth in the east. If they finish lower than that, Milwaukee then needs to depend on the bottom of the playoffs in the Western Conference to have at least one team with a worse record than the Bucks. That is highly unlikely at the current moment.

The best-case scenario is that the Bucks are able to play themselves into sixth, although this may be a bit of a stretch, it’s possible. The team to watch is the Indiana Pacers as a team that could potentially fall.

The Pacers have one of the toughest schedules in the league to close out the season. They’re currently three games ahead of the Bucks, although they do own the tiebreaker, as Indiana won the season series 3-1.

Indiana has a west coast trip to take, just as the Bucks do left on the schedule. The Pacers also have only one game remaining with a team that’s in the race to the bottom of the standings in the Sacramento Kings. It doesn’t help the Pacers cause that they play either with a back-to-back or with one off day every day for the remainder of the season.

That started for the Pacers on February 26, since then, Indiana has played every other day with one back-to-back mixed in. So far in that stretch the Pacers have gone 6-5, and it’s plausible to think things may get worse for the Pacers with their schedule difficulty increasing and lack of rest continuing through the end of the season.

The Bucks have a tall task ahead to climb their way up to potentially save their draft pick and improve their playoff seeding, but it’s something that’s possible and worth watching.

Last shots: Bucks 122, Hawks 117

MILWAUKEE | Twenty-three last shots for the 23 points scored by Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton in the 122-117 win over Atlanta on Saturday night.

1. The Bucks played one of the easiest portions of their schedule beginning the day that coach Jason Kidd was fired. After that, the easiest period of their schedule was the four-game stretch they just completed with a 3-1 record. Memphis, Orlando, and Atlanta are three of the four worst teams in the NBA, and the Bucks just faced them in succession.

2. The Bucks went 2-1 against those teams, although they weren’t overly impressive in any of the victories. Milwaukee found itself in a battle late in the fourth quarter against Atlanta on Saturday evening. The Hawks led early on by as many as 11 points in the first half before the Bucks took a 56-50 lead into the locker room at halftime.

3. The starting five was an issue again for Milwaukee, as it has been lately. Atlanta led 31-26 after the first quarter. The Bucks struggled offensively in the period. The only area they were successful was from the 3-point line, where they knocked down four 3s.

4. Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in that first quarter. The Hawks were adamant about letting him shoot from behind the arc.

5. After the first quarter Antetokounmpo took four more 3-pointers, missing all of them. He finished with a team-high 33 points on 12-of-25 shooting. Antetokounmpo added in 12 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals as well.

6. The starting group was outscored in the first quarter against Memphis and got off to a poor start again on Saturday.

7. “We want to start games and halves the right way,” interim head coach Joe Prunty said about his starting lineup prior to the game. “We want to play the right way coming out of the gate to make sure that that carries over through the first half, and then when you come out to start the second half, you want that as well. So, it is very important, and we do need our starters to step up. We have had too many stretches where we have had these lulls on both sides of the floor, and teams as going on big runs.”

8. That’s something that needs to change for the Bucks. They’re able to escape and come back against teams like Memphis, New York, and Atlanta when they don’t play their best. The Bucks don’t have enough to dig themselves out of a big hole against playoff teams.

9. The Bucks also need to be better at not allowing teams back into games. Atlanta was trailing by 13 points after Khris Middleton knocked down a 3-pointer with :36 remaining in the period. That shot gave Middleton an impressive 15 points in the quarter, prompted a timeout by Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer, and should have been a back-breaker for the Hawks.

10. Instead of that being the case, Milwaukee allowed Atlanta to close the period on a 5-0 run. Andrew White III knocked down a 3-pointer, Eric Bledsoe had a careless turnover, and White III put in a layup before the clock expired. The Bucks found themselves without any of the momentum that they had earned, and a lead of only eight entering the fourth quarter.

11. Bledsoe’s turnover was an attempt at a pass | to himself | off of the backboard. He got caught in the air after attempting to draw a foul, had nowhere else to go with the ball, and that was the result.

12. Things didn’t immediately get better, as the Hawks were able to climb all the way back and take a one-point lead with 4:39 left in the game on a pair of Taurean Prince free throws. He was the game’s high scorer with 38 points for Atlanta.

13. The Hawks got back into the game partly due to a five-point possession made possible by a flagrant foul by Antetokounmpo. Atlanta forward John Collins shot a 3-pointer from the right corner with Antetokounmpo closing out on him. Antetokounmpo did not give Collins the necessary room to land following the shot.

14. The rule is one that was implemented this season. In the playoffs last year Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was injured by Zaza Pachulia of the Golden State Warriors when Pachulia closed out on a jumper that Leonard was shooting.

15. Pachulia did not allow Leonard the proper room to land following his shot. Leonard landed directly on the foot of Pachulia, spraining his ankle, and ending his postseason. The play was called dirty, and further increased the narrative that Pachulia is a dirty player.

16. After the game, Antetokounmpo said he didn’t intentionally hurt Collins, who left the game and did not return with a sprained left ankle.

17. “I tried to close out, and not to touch,” Antetokounmpo said. “I gave [John Collins] a little bit of space because we wanted him to shoot that shot. He landed on my foot. They say the code now when someone lands on your foot is a flagrant [foul]. I didn’t do it on purpose. I hope he’s doing well and that he’s healthy.”

18. After the game, Collins said he didn’t think his injury was too serious.

19. “Obviously, I landed on his foot, but I don’t think he was intentionally trying to run up under me,” Collins said. “He was just closing out. I thought when I shot the ball I jumped into the line a little bit. It was a basketball play.”

20. Milwaukee now enters a tougher portion of its schedule, and its one they must step up for in order to avoid a bottom two seed in the conference. Five of the next six games for Milwaukee come against teams that are either in the playoffs or fighting for a spot.

21. The Bucks also have to go out to the west coast for a four-game road trip to close the month.

22. On that road trip two of the games are against teams fighting for a playoff spot in the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets, one is against the Golden State Warriors, and the final one is against the Los Angeles Lakers.

23. Before they worry about that, Milwaukee returns to action Monday night in Cleveland against the Cavaliers.

Bucks beat Memphis 121-103

Brandon Jennings had not played for the Milwaukee Bucks since April 28, 2013 when the Bucks lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. His first game in a Milwaukee uniform since then was better than anyone could have expected.

Jennings helped the Bucks defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 121-103 on the road Monday night. Jennings, in his first NBA game of the season, flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds.

He played 24 minutes, which was more than expected. This was partly due to the foul trouble that both guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo found themselves in. They both finished with five fouls in less than 30 minutes on the court. Antetokounmpo had 20 points on the evening, and Bledsoe had 14.

Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee in scoring. He had 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. In total, the Bucks had seven players reach double-figures in scoring.

The win moved Milwaukee into seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, shifting ahead of the Miami Heat.

The Bucks are back in action on Wednesday night in Orlando against the Magic.