Editor’s note: Authoring this preview in his Brew Hoop debut is Dylan Paris, fellow Buck fan and brother of our very own Adam Paris. We could use some more sibling rivalry around these parts; welcome Dylan!
An impressive comeback (and a shot heard round the NBA) lifted the Milwaukee Bucks over the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday 105-104, who now return home looking to get their fourth straight victory in a rematch with the Knicks in the World’s Second-Most Famous Arena, the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Here's Giannis one more time with the incomparable @nbated on the call... pic.twitter.com/suMWP2jARy— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) January 5, 2017
In the second half of a home and home with the Knicks, the Bucks bring momentum back to the frigid Milwaukee temperatures after one of the most memorable and discussed nights in recent Bucks basketball history. After a prolific performance on Wednesday, soon-to-be All Star and Greek God, Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to continue his brilliance in a nationally televised game on ESPN. His 27 points and 13 rebounds led the Bucks, but based on how fired up Giannis gets to play high-level competition, there’s no doubt he wants to outscore Carmelo Anthony in the rematch.
The Malcolm Brogdon-Greg Monroe dynamic duo continues to produce. After an abysmal third quarter, Brogdon (12 points, game-high 8 assists) and Monroe (18 points, 3 steals) sparked a fourth quarter comeback from what was once a 15-point deficit. Their two man game was on display in the half-court offense as well as the transition game, including a pinball-passing display for a layup. Brogdon is showing that he can handle an increased workload with Matthew Dellavedova still out with a
Corona-induced hand cramp hamstring injury. Moose was the Bucks most productive center Wednesday playing 30 minutes, while John Henson played only 13 and Miles Plumlee got a rare chance to continue playing poorly (0-2, 1 rebound, 1 turnover).
Jabari Parker had a fine night with 15 points (6/8 from the free throw line and a three-pointer), but hopefully he can bounce back against his popular comp and fellow mediocre defender, Carmelo Anthony. Jason Terry’s continued moral support is always a pleasure to see, but he also hit two three pointers early in the fourth quarter to help spring the comeback and lead the game with a game-high +13. The Delly injury and Rashad Vaughn’s continued absence mean minutes are readily available for the 39-year old, high-flying JET to fill in.
Tony Snell was a discouraging 1-5 from the field on Wednesday. An offensive improvement would be appreciated as he’ll again be tasked with guarding Derrick Rose, who is good for a couple flashes on most nights.
The Bucks enter this game with the national spotlight and focus of conversation, so tonight’s game is set up to be a major Bucks letdown. Hopefully this young Bucks team can show some maturation by coming out strong and putting on a show, since everyone will be watching.
Brew Hoop also had a chance to talk with Ryan Ruocco, a native New Yorker and the ESPN play-by-play announcer for tonight’s game alongside Doug Collins. After confirming he had his pronunciation of Antetokounmpo down, he discussed a bit about the Bucks’ current perception in New York:
“I think that people understand that Milwaukee is coming. And if you look at the prime young talent that the Bucks have you understand that this is a team that’s about to be reckoned with in the East for a long time to come. And, what we’re starting to see now is them arriving. Right? They’re not there yet, but they’re now starting to be a team that when you’re playing them you’re thinking, ‘This is gonna be a really hard game, I don’t know if we’re gonna win because they’re really good.’ And that in itself is real progress...
I think that they’re starting to be respected and I think that people understand that even though, you know, they’re still a couple pieces away from championship contention, they’re a team that’s now probably going to be permanently making noise in the East.”
The Knicks left New York with a 6-game losing streak and Friday is the first night of a road back-to-back. Even though they shot a blazing 46% from the three point line, the night ended like this:
Yesterday, I wrote "The @Bucks are annoying."— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) January 5, 2017
Melo's face after last night's game would suggest he thinks so too.https://t.co/1gFPICNg5k pic.twitter.com/RCne5McIKV
Mindaugas “Cheese” Kuzminskus propelled the Knicks with 11 points in the first half and should feel right at home in Wisconsin with a nickname like that. Kuzminskus knocked down one of the four first quarter three-pointers the Knicks made from the left corner. By driving into the lane, drawing the Bucks left-side defender in and kicking out to the corner, the Knicks exploited a weakness in the Bucks aggressive defense and converted from the arc.
Carmelo Anthony’s 30 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, including 20 points in the second half, helped the Knicks get out to a big lead in the second half. Clearly upset about the other night, Anthony is likely to come out seeking revenge on Giannis and company. But the Knicks paltry defense has been prone to cracking so far this season, allowing an average of 108.4 points per game this season (25th in the NBA).
Joakim Noah continues to be a thorn in the Milwaukee Bucks side, even from a time zone over. After recovering from his shoulder injury last year, Noah’s offensive game is improving (4-7 on Wednesday) and his 16 rebounds (7 offensive!!!) really hurt the Bucks the other night. The Bucks give up an average of 10.6 offensive rebounds a game, and the Knicks brought down 15 total. Controlling the offensive glass will be tough with Noah and the big bodied Lance Thomas in the game, but it could be the difference in the game as the Knicks shot 16 more shots than Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Starting in the backcourt is Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee who both came to the Knicks in the offseason, Rose via trade and Lee as a free agent. Lee remains a solid defender and is shooting 46.5% from behind the arc this season (3/5 on Wednesday) and Rose showed the ability to get into the lane and either find a shooter in the corner or use his body to clear enough space for his Franken-knees to propel him toward the basket for a layup or dunk.
With the whole of New York in a state of panic, Kristaps Porzingis remains questionable with a sore Achilles’ tendon.
Ruocco also had this to say about a central story line to watch tonight for the Knicks outside of the potential return of Porzingis and other assorted stars on the court:
“I think that the Knicks bench really let them down last game at the beginning of the fourth quarter. And I know that Brandon Jennings ripped into the bench as a unit, including himself, and really felt responsible for what happened, blowing the 14-point lead in the beginning of the fourth quarter.
So that will be something to watch for because that unit, Jeff Hornacek told us a couple weeks ago, that the second unit were beating the starters in practice all training camp and they’ve kind of gelled this entire season. So there is a harmony to the Knicks second unit, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they come out with a different type of energy for this game trying to sort of make up for what went wrong a couple days ago.”