During every road trip, there usually comes a time when the whole gang is fed up, you’re only halfway to your destination and the closest restaurant within 30 miles is a Burger King. Wit’s end is a depressing place to be, and the Bucks found themselves squarely in their road trip’s period of discontent tonight, falling to the Warriors in a 117-92 loss that was over after the first quarter.
Despite an exciting first few minutes where Milwaukee took the lead behind inspired play from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker, the Warriors dominated the final 42 minutes of action. Stephen Curry and the gang splashed home three after three, and the Warriors ruled the paint with easy looks that decimated the Bucks’ defensive scheme.
It was a relative no-show from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who wound up with a depressing nine points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks. Meanwhile, Greg Monroe played decently in his 17 minutes for 12 points and seven rebounds with Khris Middleton putting up 11 points and five assists. Malcolm Brogdon added 18 points. It was a balanced night of blandness from the entire Bucks roster.
Golden State received a star performance from their stud, with Stephen Curry locking in 28 points on just 9-13 shooting. Klay Thompson had a steady night that ended in 21 points, Andre Iguodala hit the shots he needed to for 15 points and Draymond Green had his usual assortment of stats with eight points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.
Milwaukee was outclassed all night on both ends, shooting just 40.4% on the game as opposed to the Warriors’ sweet-shooting 60.0% mark including 12-23 (52.2%) from deep. The Bucks held their own turnovers to just 11, giving up 12 points off those to the Warriors, but they did allow 24 fast break points. The Warriors got up and down like a track team, and Milwaukee’s defense was ill-equipped to contain them at every stage of the game.
Milwaukee raced out to an early lead against the Warriors, thoroughly steamrolling them with Giannis pushing the pace and Thon Maker cleaning up near the hoop. After a Giannis dunk, Thon followed up with a strong finish, and the Bucks kept it rolling as Greg Monroe marked his territory to build a 23-11 lead. Inevitably Golden State answered, and they used a combination of transition and swift interior passing to cycle through Bucks defenders for simple shots at the rim. Stephen Curry closed out the quarter with a step back three, but the Bucks led 29-27 after one.
Golden State continued its hot streak, eventually culminating in a 25-5 run that spanned both quarters and gave them a 36-30 lead. Milwaukee hit back with two threes of its own though, one from MIddleton, the other Brogdon, as they tried to keep it close. Instead, Golden State stayed with Javale McGee and then downsized to the death lineup as the quarter proceeded, gashing open their lead like they were performing surgery. Matt Barnes knocked home two triples, and Stephen Curry splashed two of his own as the Bucks mustered only 15 points in the second quarter. They shot 22.7% in the second, and the Warriors closed with a 23-6 run, leading 63-44 at half.
GIannis Antetokounmpo had only five points, with Greg Monroe leading the team with ten points and five boards. Both Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton had eight apiece. For Golden State, Stephen Curry went off for 18 points, four rebounds and three assists, chomping apart the Bucks’ defense like a runaway lawnmower.
Milwaukee shot only 38.6% in the half, as the Warriors found themselves at 66.7% shooting behind a 7-11 performance from behind the arc. The Bucks failed to get back in transition defense, allowing 16 fast break points to the Warriors and 34 points in the paint to only 18 of their own.
Milwaukee’s defensive ineptitude carried on in the second half, with Golden State continuing to pour in points as their lead exploded to 76-49 after yet another deep Curry jumper. At one point, the Bucks offense consisted of a Mirza Teletovic post-up on Steph Curry leading to a turnaround jumper. Khris Middleton and Matthew Dellavedova both hit threes, the latter of which incited a chorus of boos from the crowd of a team up by 20+ points. Stephen Curry didn’t relent, and the easy shots continued, with the Bucks entering the fourth trailing 94-70.
Rashad Vaughn provided the few initial highlights for Milwaukee in the fourth, registering a block and two 3-pointers during the first few minutes. However, the Bucks still couldn’t find ways to get stops, as Klay Thompson rocketed in buckets over Vaughn to maintain a 105-82 lead for Golden State. Both teams went to the scrubs down the stretch, although Terrence Jones failed to make an appearance, and Milwaukee lost 117-92.
- Thon Maker had one of his best stints in some time tonight to start. He was active on both sides of the floor, utilizing his most notable skill, hustle, by blocking Stephen Curry and running the floor for an easy transition basket after Giannis dealed him the ball from his tush. Maker cleaned up a rebound too and looked very confident going up at the hoop. That last part may be just as important, given his inability to finish at times this season despite his athletic tools. Here’s him swatting away Steph’s shot like a fruit fly.
- Milwaukee has had difficulty containing Javale McGee when he’s entered for the Warriors this season. While he’s nowhere near the talent people hoped for during his “prime” a few years ago, his rim-running and athleticism is a staunch difference to the ground-bound, roving roomba game of Pachulia. Greg Monroe was able to find some success posting up, but the Bucks weren’t able to adapt as the Warriors went on a significant run to get back in the game with him on the floor.
- Stephen Curry has had historically poor games against Milwaukee the last three games. He was only 5-26 in those performances from deep, and some of that mean reversion that’s been so generous to Delly lately passed along its benefits to Curry tonight. He finished 6-8 from beyond the arc.
- Thon Maker got re-inserted into the game in the second quarter, replacing John Henson after a period of ineffectiveness known in some circles as Hensoning. It was curious given Kidd’s reticence to give him any more minutes than his brief flash at the start of both halves. He played well enough to earn it, just surprised me is all.
- Milwaukee’s defense was abysmal. They were lazy in transition D, even allowing the Warriors to cherry-pick one possession and nearly giving up another were it not for Brogdon stealing the full-court pass. Stephen Curry worked through the Bucks defense like it was a child’s maze, sending defenders scrambling and freeing up shooters from the arc. Shots they weren’t getting before Milwaukee’s defense got set eventually wound up being easy finishes at the rim.
- Milwaukee’s offense may have been even worse than the aforementioned defense. They failed to penetrate Golden State’s perimeter defensive shell in any appreciable way, and weren’t attacking the rim before the Warriors’ could get their halfcourt defense set. That last strategy led to their first quarter success, but Golden State buttoned up and Milwaukee didn’t find any way to respond.
- Perhaps the most peculiar sequence tonight was a Mirza Teletovic takeover in the third quarter. After his shake-and-bake turnaround on Curry, he put his head down like a determined bull and genuinely looked like he wanted to jam on someone. Then the Warriors calmly let him drive in for a layup, and on the ensuing possession, his body engulfed in flame, Teletovic boldly dipped his head and threw up a prayer the basketball Gods politely flushed down the toilet the second it reached its apex. The ball failed to catch even a semblance of iron. The third quarter was a trip man.
- Rashad Vaughn had some refreshing flashes in the fourth. Besides hitting a corner three from Giannis, he blocked Andre Iguodala from behind. Vaughn’s had a few of those blocks this year, and he followed it up with a pull-up three from deep. I still have little confidence in him ever becoming a contributory NBA player, but on a night defined by depression, it was nice to have a hint of joy.
- Giannis was bad tonight. After an aggressive stint in the first quarter where his determination to attack in transition led to several Bucks’ baskets, he seemed disinterested in re-asserting his will on the game. When he’s of little threat off-ball as a shooter, his domination relies on his acute ability to create with the ball and send the defense scrambling. He’s an offense’s motor, not the wheels. It was depressing to see him get so out of whack versus an opponent this franchise has played so well against over the past two years. Perhaps it’s part of being on a lengthy road trip, but no one is beyond reproach tonight, least of all the Bucks’ superstar who allowed Mirza Teletovic to attack the basket more vociferously than him tonight.