Less than 48 hours after pulling away from the Nets in Brooklyn, the Bucks return home looking to turn the trick for a third time this season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo followed up his dominant effort against the Cavs with arguably an even more effective performance in Brooklyn, dropping 23 points, eight boards, eight assists, four steals and two blocks in just three quarters and 30 minutes of actions. Not to get ahead of ourselves or anything, but another strong effort tonight would likely sew up his second career Eastern Conference player of the week honor (February 2015), and overall it’s tough to say the league isn’t taking note of Antetokounmpo’s prodigious talents. The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and Kevin O’Connor spoke at length about Giannis’ emergence on their latest podcast, The Starters pegged him as an emerging superstar in their latest podcast, and he also got the 538 treatment after his latest masterclass in Brooklyn:
Giannis’ 2-for-5 effort from three spearheaded a big 15-of-34 effort from deep, allowing the Bucks to overcome a rare night when they were outscored both in the paint and in transition. Malcolm Brogdon, Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic also did their part, often times taking advantage of Antetokounmpo’s drive-and-kick actions to spot up from deep.
Giannis also teased reporters after the game by suggesting he has a standing invite to work on his jumper with Dirk Nowitzki’s personal coach next summer. Until then, Giannis seems intent to adopt the “screw it, just shoot” mindset that has worked well for Jabari Parker.
"My main focus is to shoot without hesitating," Antetokounmpo said. "That's my main focus right now. I don't care if it goes in or it goes out. I just shoot. I have nothing to lose. Just let it fly."
His willingness to bury two early threes without hesitation also paid dividends when he wasn’t shooting them, as he repeatedly was able to get Nets defenders to bite on pump fakes in the second half.
There’s no rocket science behind the Nets’ approach: they play fast (2nd in pace), shoot a ton of threes (2nd in attempts) and, despite Kenny Atkinson’s efforts, can’t stop anyone on defense (29th in DRTG).
Eight of Brook Lopez’s 12 shots in Brooklyn were from deep, so I’m curious if at some point we see Jason Kidd use one of his small lineups to try to play Lopez off the court defensively. The score may have been a factor in Brooklyn, as Kidd has often relied on small lineups to give the Bucks a fourth-quarter spark; they didn’t need that while up double-digits in New York, as Antetokounmpo didn’t play at all in the final period.
No change on the injury front for the Nets, who remain without both Jeremy Lin and rookie Caris Levert.