Look up the word defeat in the dictionary. You won’t find Joe Prunty’s picture there. The party in Milwaukee continued as the Bucks strung together their fourth straight win, knocking off the Philadelphia 76ers by a 107-95 score.
Immediately after tip-off commenced, the Sixers went to work down low — and work they did. Their attack in the paint gave Milwaukee some major fits in the opening minutes. Somehow, the Bucks entered the second quarter down just two at 30-28. That’d flip-flop when halftime came around, with Milwaukee maintaining a 55-53 advantage.
A flurry of threes towards the end of the third would boost Milwaukee’s lead to eight at 83-75 heading into the final 12 minutes of action. From there, the Joe Prunty train would keep on chugging. The Bucks would never look back, and they put the finishing touches on their fourth consecutive victory.
You know Giannis Antetokounmpo is a pretty good basketball player when he can “quietly” have a stat line of 31 points, 18 rebounds, and six assists. He was the leading man in the Milwaukee box sheet, as he helped pave the way to victory for the home squad. Khris Middleton helped the cause with 19 points, and John Henson put forth 13 points on the night. Tony Snell, Sterling Brown, and Matthew Dellavedova each came off the bench with double digits.
The Joel Embiid-less Sixers failed to have anybody surpass the 20 point plateau. Dario Saric filled out as the team’s leading scorer on the night with 19. Ben Simmons was held to his season average, finishing with just 16 points. Robert Covington was the only other Philadelphia starter to register double digits.
Philadelphia delivered a beatdown in the post.
Working down low was obviously in Brett Brown’s game plan (the ice cold start from the perimeter may’ve also had a say in it). Right from the get go, they made their presence felt in the paint. It was a little scary considering the Sixers didn’t have Joel Embiid, yet were still accomplishing whatever they wanted to down under. The Bucks were lucky that Philadelphia was just 2-of-26 from the 3-point line, because had just a small number of those fallen, the home squad would’ve faced some trouble.
Eric Bledsoe’s opening few minutes were...uninspiring.
Now that we find ourselves in the post-Jason Kidd era, it’s a bit odd not seeing arguments flung around Bucks Twitter on a daily basis. No worries, it seems like we’ve found our next debate -- Eric Bledsoe. Some are beginning to turn on him, saying he’s not a good fit for this offense and Giannis. They had some fuel added to the fire last night when Bledsoe was benched following a lackluster performance on defense in the game’s opening possessions. It definitely looked like he wasn’t involved in the game and Joe Prunty addressed his two minutes played as keeping an eye out for a sore ankle, but take that how you will.
JABARI’S BACK ON FRIDAY, BABY.
Arguably even bigger news than the victory, Jabari Parker revealed on the Fox Sports Wisconsin telecast that he will be making his season debut this Friday night against the New York Knicks. It’s so exciting not as a fan, but you have to be happy for Jabari just as a person. It’s incredible what he’s been through and Friday is going to be an emotional night. Joe Prunty was asked if there’s any plan set in place during his postgame presser, to which he responded that there is, but didn’t feel as if that was the proper time to address it. In the meantime, I asked Giannis how excited he is to have his teammate back. Here’s his response:
Asked Giannis how excited he is to have Jabari back Friday night: "He's going to take this team to the next level." pic.twitter.com/zSyum0H8fq— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 30, 2018
Be still, my heart. <3
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Coming into last night’s game, John Henson had scored double-digit figures in five straight games. That had tied a career high, and would ya know it — the Inspector Gadget scored 13 points, making it a new career-high in scoring double digits. I asked Joe Prunty what he’s seen as the reason behind Henson’s efficiency, and I feel he provided a pretty good answer:
John Henson finished with 13 points tonight, making it a career-high six straight games of scoring double digits. Here's what Joe Prunty said in regards to his efficiency out on the floor: pic.twitter.com/jIOfe2ocgw— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 30, 2018
- For the second game in a row, Jason Terry connected from downtown. Folks, my stance on Jason Terry remains the same. He’s not just a professional basketball player, he’s a professional entertainer. The crowd doesn’t even cheer as loud for Giannis as they do JET when he hits a three. It’s incredible. If the Bucks are ever in a rut, a slew of Jason Terry 3-pointers is the perfect ailment to get out of the drought and get the crowd back into it (the only problem is actually getting Jason Terry to hit multiple threes).
- The uniforms in this game were off the charts. First, you have the Bucks cream alts, and then you add in the Sixers red white and blue? Beautiful. (Note: While I’m discussing the Sixers’ rebrand, let’s all be reminded that they have the coolest alternate logo in the league, a BALLIN’ BEN FRANKLIN!)
- Prior to last night, the Bucks had shot 50 percent or more in three consecutive games. Unfortunately, that statistic came to a halt, but the 47.5 percent was more than respectable. It really shows how well the team is moving the basketball. Just a few weeks ago, the team entered a “selfish stage,” where players would take opposing defenses on one-on-one instead of spreading the ball around. It resulted in predictability and an obtuse scoring effort. Now with proper ball movement, the offense is being productive. Who would’ve ever knew??? But nonetheless, kudos to the Bucks for not acting like a bunch of zombies on the offensive side of the ball. This has been fun to watch.
- As much as we’d all love to bask in the glory of a win, I have to be a little pessimistic by saying it could’ve been a lottttttt different had Philadelphia’s numbers been a little different from deep. You have to consider yourself lucky when your opponent goes 2-of-26 from 3-point land, and that’s exactly what happened for the Bucks last night. But hey, we’re not complaining. A win is a win in the NBA, and the Bucks have won four straight.
- Hmmmm...let’s take a look at those Eastern Conference standings, courtesy of r/nba:
Considering where Milwaukee was a week ago, this is some exciting news. I know the East is separated by a razor blade, but nonetheless — when you’re two and a half games behind the No. 3 seed, it’s a good day. Let’s hope the Bucks can keep climbing the ranks.