While all streaks are meant to be broken, the Bucks delivered a Herculean effort -- both collectively and individually -- to topple the Warriors and their NBA-record 24-0 start on Saturday night. Though they weren't without breakdowns on the defensive end, the Bucks did about as well as could have been hoped in holding the Warriors under 100 points for the first time this season.
But they also needed -- and got -- the best game of Greg Monroe's short Bucks career, a triple-double from Giannis Antetokounmpo, a season-high 19 points from Jabari Parker, and a monster fourth quarter from Michael Carter-Williams. The net result was not just a win, but a 108-95 exclamation point on the biggest Bucks' regular season win in...well, who knows how long.
On Sunday, Eric Nehm and I discussed what we saw from the Warriors game, how it fits into the bigger picture of the Bucks, and what we might expect going forward. Part II will be posted tomorrow, in which we look at the Bucks' upcoming road trip, discuss the sobering playoff odds they're up against, and answer listener questions on a host of topics. Listen below and subscribe to us in iTunes right here.
Looking ahead, it goes without saying that one game won't turn around Milwaukee's season by itself, especially considering the 10-15 hole the Bucks finds themselves in at the moment. The East is deeper than it's been in years, and a brutal schedule over the next month won't make it any easier for the Bucks to make up ground on the 12 teams ahead of them in the conference. But that also doesn't mean a win over the Warriors can't be celebrated, especially if it's a part of bigger and better things. If you can't enjoy a night where the Bucks' young stars knock off one of the greatest teams in NBA history...well, what's the point of calling them your team in the first place?
More importantly, Saturday's performance was the best indicator yet that the Bucks are starting to rediscover the defensive identity that carried them to 41 wins last season. Over the past nine games they've only had one below-average game by defensive efficiency standards -- Wednesday's loss to the Clippers. And even with games against the Warriors, Clippers, Spurs and Hornets, their aggregate defensive efficiency ranks 4th in the league in that span. They've cleaned things up on the defensive boards (12th) and are doing enough to limit opponents to the 8th worst three point percentage in the league. That latter figure could be something of a fluke, but it's an area the Bucks may live and die by all season.