Well, phew. The Bucks got what they needed at the Bradley Center last night, defeating the Orlando Magic by a score of 110-103. We came into the game hoping for a blowout Bucks win, and while the Bucks didn’t provide a full four quarter slate of that, it was more than satisfactory. Though the final score shows single digits, it really never appeared to be that close (once the third quarter rolled around). It was a well-needed second half for the sanity of all pro-Bucks parties.
It still felt as if the Bucks were sleepwalking when this one tipped off. They were unable to go on any runs of sorts but led by a single point at 30-29 moving into the second quarter. The next 12 minutes would be desolate, as a cold shooting spell put a wrench in any chance Milwaukee had to really pull away. The team was just 2-of-14 from deep, but hung onto a 53-46 halftime lead.
Thankfully, despite the drought, the second half saw the Bucks cruise to the finish line. The third quarter was downright dominant. Think of it like this — Milwaukee was the shoe, Orlando was the bug. Squish. There was never any real doubt in whether or not they’d sputter to the finish line, even with the little hiccup with the bench unit in the closing minutes. With Golden State up next, it was nice to have a night free of worries and insecurities.
Giannis Antetokounmpo rebounded with a 26 point showing, which led the team on the night. Khris Middleton made a splash, pouring in 22 points. The three other starters (E. Bledsoe with 15, M. Brogdon with 14, and J. Henson with 14) all finished in double digits.
It was a silent night on the individual scoring sheet for Orlando. Evan Fournier highlighted the efforts with 21 points. Bismack Biyombo and Marreese Speights each had 14 on the evening.
Milwaukee won this game without relying on the 3-point ball.
When a team goes 4-of-19 from beyond the arc, it usually lays the groundwork for disaster. Thankfully, that didn’t occur for the Bucks (it’s also probably good that they were playing the Magic). Regardless of who they were playing, we can take solace that the Bucks didn’t lose because of this. I asked Eric Bledsoe about it and he discussed the importance of strong transition baskets bleeding over from the defense. With the physical characteristics this Bucks team embodies, it’s valuable that they can make up for a poor shooting night.
Sterling Brown continues to show why he deserves minutes.
While he didn’t have the most eye catching box score, Sterling Brown still embarked on a strong night. The rookie from Ole Miss made the most of his 21 minutes on the court by gaining valuable experience and just establishing chemistry with his teammates. Leading up into a game as big as Golden State tomorrow night, all of these minutes are crucial for Brown. We know what he can bring to the table. However, we are all aware of the jitters many rookies can have. But knowing Jason Kidd’s rotations, who knows what his upcoming minutes are going to look like.
It’s refreshing to see the Bucks not play down to their opponents.
Ah, yes. The tradition that we all love — our Bucks coming out and laying a dud against the teams stocked in the cellar of the conference. Thankfully, that didn’t occur last night and with how often we’re used to that occurring, that’s why it’s one of my big three observations. You’d like to think that this is a sign of maturity, but knowing the rollercoaster that is this Bucks team, you always have to expect the unexpected. On the other hand, let’s hope that the Bucks stay true to their tradition of playing up to their opponents when the defending champs make their final visit to the Bradley Center tomorrow night.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- We all knew that Giannis would bounce back from his horrific game in Indianapolis the other night. His 26 points wasn’t the most Giannis-esque performance we’ve seen, but it should get him on the right track with Golden State looming tomorrow.
- I’ll make the same case for the other starters as I did for Giannis. They didn’t boast the flashiest of performances, but it was a nice tuneup for everyone involved leading up to the meeting with the Warriors. Think of it as a starting pitcher making a rehab start in the minor leagues. A game against the lowly Magic might be what’s needed to battle the highly talented Warriors.
- Elfrid Payton’s hair is the eighth wonder of the world. Seriously, I must’ve spent the first three minutes of the game watching his hairdo instead of following the basketball. It’s literally as if a mop was taken out of a bucket full of water, wrung out, cut off from the handle, then plopped on his head. It’s fascinating.
- I mentioned it in one of my three observations, but I’m really interested in seeing how Jason Kidd implements Sterling Brown moving forward. Does he trust him enough to receive meaningful minutes against Golden State? Or will he spin the lottery wheel and keep him seated on the far end of the pine? Welcome to Jason Kidd’s bench, where the rotations are made up and the stats don’t matter!
- I thought the Bucks did a terrific job of getting to the line early. When the 3-point shots weren’t falling, they went elsewhere to score the basketball. Free throws were critical in staying toe-to-toe with Orlando in the opening half. Eventually, the Bucks would resort to other options to extend their lead, but the charity stripe played an integral part in this victory.
- Count me as a fan of the black jerseys Orlando was wearing last night. I loved the subtle pinstripes, especially with that shade of evening blue. I’m also going against the board when I say that I enjoy their new City jerseys as well. It does a terrific job of capturing the Magic name while also throwing it back with a classic look that would seem to appear in the 90’s.