This one sure felt good folks, with the Milwaukee Bucks dismantling the Sacramento Kings 112-87. Milwaukee led 32-26 after one, paced by the literal rapid pace by which Giannis was leading the team with 11 points against an overmatched Skal Labissiere. The Bucks went into halftime leading comfortably, 61-37, behind Bledsoe’s best half as a Buck, scoring 18 points. There was little to no resistance put up by the Kings as the second half went on and Milwaukee coasted its way to a never in doubt win. Giannis bullied his way to a final line of 32 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals by pulverizing every person in the King’s court tonight. They next travel to Portland on Thursday for the finale of their West Coast Trip.
Three Main Observations
Milwaukee wanted to make use of their pace from the outset tonight. Giannis was pushing as hard as ever in transition and feasting from the Kings’ sterile transition D. Giannis flummoxed Skal Labissiere but more importantly, Milwaukee was looking for effective shots as a way to heal their wounded offensive game of late. While their takes to the basket were pretty, several of their other shot selections were questionable at the outset. Giannis, Bledsoe and (sigh) Henson all settled for deep jumpers from two-point range. None of them splashed home and all of them would’ve likely improved from a little patience or another pass. Fortunately, Giannis remained persistent on attacking the rack from the second they got the rebound throughout the remainder of the contest with impressive effectiveness.
Eric Bledsoe played his best game in a Bucks uniform yet tonight. His pace was far too frenetic for the lethargic transition defense of the Kings and even in the halfcourt he was slicing and dicing to find Bucks players in advantageous positions. Whether it was whipping a bounce pass to John Henson or touching a finesse pass over to Tony Snell in the corner for a three, Bledsoe was seeing the floor and nailing his shot in the finest of form. His quiet second half helped get him some significant rest and left a rosy impression from his dominating first half.
Milwaukee needed a win like this in the worst way. Their horrid performance of late had led to considerable consternation among Bucks fans and stomping on an inferior opponent at least gives us a railing to grasp in the darkness. However, the more important point will be when the Bucks face Sacramento again in Milwaukee on Saturday night. Will they allow themselves to fall back into familiar trends and play poorly on both ends? Or will they recognize that they should be stomping on the necks of weak teams like Sacramento with a repeat performance? For their sake they should be hoping it’s the latter, as one offensive blip does not a hopeful fanbase make. Repeating this type of destruction would go a long way towards building confidence in Milwaukee’s ability to take care of business, something no one would say is the case at the moment.
Bonus Bucks Bits
Milwaukee returned to their regular starting lineup tonight. Thankfully Khris Middleton was good to go or we may have once again been subjected to another “The Glove (Jr.) doesn’t fit” night. Heck, we almost had it again anyway...
Jason Kidd says Khris Middleton will play and start. They win monitor his minutes. Said either GP or Snell will start. Asked about lack of spacing with GP and he said GP brings defense and play making. Added that you can’t lose the game in the first 3-4 mins.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) November 29, 2017
Milwaukee was hurtling towards the basket early and often in the shot clock to start the first quarter and Sacramento’s transition defense looked wanting. Giannis barreled past the twiggy Skal and Eric Bledsoe was finding his spots early in the halfcourt, unfortunately one of those spots was a backwards pass to John Henson in the midrange. Henson, ever the optimist, fired his errant shot towards the hoop eschewing an open Middleton on the arc in the process. Thankfully his roll game was on point with Bledsoe to make up for it.
Bledsoe was balling out with dimes in the first, toasting the parting seas of Sacramento’s defense for two Henson roll finishes and then this lengthy beaut to the awaiting arms of a jazzed-up Giannis.
Tony Snell continued his assault driving to the hoop tonight where he left off in Utah. He finessed the ball in against traffic early in the second, a peculiar trend that I’ll more than take from a role player who’s outplayed my expectations considerably this year.
Jason Terry got some run tonight for the first real considerable time since the second game of the season against Cleveland. He didn’t do much in the box score, but that was the case much of last year when he racked up plenty of positive net ratings. The revolving door that is Milwaukee’s backup guard rotation continues to swing this year, but it appears Terry may be trotted out there more in the near future.
Here's what Jason Kidd had to say about playing Jason Terry 22 1/2 minutes tonight (Spoiler: Expect to see a lot more Jet going forward): pic.twitter.com/xcGzIeMOUu— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) November 29, 2017
Giannis’ improved confidence this year has caused some ill-advised jumpers, particularly late in games when his legs start to fail him. However, there’s still nothing quite like the joy of a Giannis three splashing home, as it did early in the third quarter to give Milwaukee a 28-point cushion over the lifeless Kings.
Sacramento’s defense was truly atrocious. Not only could they not inhibit Giannis from doing much of anything, but basically any penetration near the hoop either led to an easy drawn foul or flip-up to an awaiting John Henson. Any sort of offensive outburst showing a semblance of rhythm was welcome after their latest efforts though, so tonight was a welcome change even against a hapless squad.
D.J. Wilson got considerable burn tonight in garbage time back in his high school balling city. He had a nice finish at the rim that was noticeably not a dunk but a cautious layup. However, he did flash a decent pass from the high post to an awaiting Buck who sealed off his post man for a bucket and Wilson managed to hit something in traffic. It’s gonna be baby steps with him by virtue of his lack of playing time, but hopefully he can mold into something useful as the season drags on.
In the battle of underwhelming skinny sophomores tonight, I’d say Thon Maker won out over Skal Labissiere. Neither were particularly impressive, but Skal looked entirely overmatched by Giannis tonight while Maker flashed some defensive potential at the rim. More importantly, he was nailing his jumpers and had an impressive (for him) dunk from flat feet.