A rare taking care of business game for Milwaukee found them roundly trouncing the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, winning out 112-98. They welcome the New York Knicks to the Bradley Center tonight, who defeated the Orlando Magic on Monday night, 113-105.
In a peculiar turn of events, Milwaukee didn’t follow-up heartening wins with disheartening losses, and their domination over the soulless Sixers felt like one of their most complete games to date. Part of that was of course due to the ineptitude of a Philadelphia team running on junkyard parts and loaners from Delaware, but Milwaukee led most of the way through.
Tony Snell showed out with a 5-7 performance from beyond the arc to finish with 21 points. Giannis managed a comfortably stuffed box score with 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocks. Their hot nights, combined with the tranquil efficiency of Khris Middleton (13 points, eight assists), made for an enjoyable night of Bucks basketball.
Middleton is beginning to look like his old self, posting outrageous numbers over his past four games:
Also, last four games where Middleton is really back:— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) March 7, 2017
-22.1 ppg/4.9 rpg/6.3 apg/2 spg
-55 FG%/43 3P%/84.2 FT% (67.1 TS%)
+20.3 net rating https://t.co/PUrFoaMu45
Perhaps the most encouraging part of Eric’s Per-36 statistics are that they came during a three games in four night stretch for Middleton, which included a back-to-back. I presumed he wouldn’t be able to handle that workload this early into his return, but it appears that Middleton is thriving under the arduous schedule. He’s also averaging 4.6 3-point attempts during those games, precisely in line with his Per-36 3-point attempts last year. Shooters returning from leg injuries seem to have their shot return last - Jabari Parker for example before, well... - but it would seem Middleton is starting to be more comfortable from deep. It helps that he rattles off a shot with little to no lift as well.
Milwaukee hasn’t faced the Knicks since they followed-up Giannis’ game-winner in MSG with a depressing thud the next night in Milwaukee, falling 116-111. The Bucks vomited that one away down the stretch, getting outscored by New York by 18 in the fourth. Fans may better remember that as, “The game that made Ron Baker a wanted man in Milwaukee.”
Michael Beasley is out for the Bucks, and Charles Gardner is reporting that he will be out at least the next two weeks. Perhaps tonight will see Terrence Jones debut in a Bucks uniform.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd said F Michael Beasley will be out at least 2 more weeks and be re-evaluated at that time.— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) March 7, 2017
The Knicks have been remarkably forgettable of late. No huge dust-ups. No veiled shots at players. Then they stood pat at the trade deadline after some social media sleuthing revealed the Celtics account followed Carmelo Anthony sparking some brief, ludicrous rumors. Instead, Phil Jackson and Jim Dolan stood pat, playing a kazoo and singing merrily around the blazing orange fire of inertia that’s surrounded the franchise for over a decade.
Besides rare wins over Boston and San Antonio, they’ve stayed relatively staid over the past two months, settling into 12th place in the Eastern conference. Despite that, they remain only 5.5 games behind the 8th seeded Bulls. Their bottom-five defense continues to remain a problem and they shoot only 2.5 more threes per game than the suddenly trigger-happy Bucks. Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony continue to sop up possessions like a fresh mop, and Kristaps Porzingis usage rate is actually down a smidge from last year, at 24.0%.
Their main roster moves came from waiving former Buck Brandon Jennings, and losing Joakim Noah to knee surgery for the year. Joakim Noah’s contract, a pariah before the ink even dried, will probably inflame enough ire from New Yorkers to heat several homes for the next few years. They also added Chasson Randle in place of Jennings with a contract partially guaranteed through next year according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Randle played on the Knicks’ summer league team, and has played decently in his two games with the squad. He even played merely a minute less than Derrick Rose in their win over Orlando, posting a +27 to Rose’s -23 on the night.
For New York, Joakim Noah is out for the year, and Carmelo Anthony and Maurice Ndour are listed as questionable.