It was an anxiety-free night at the Bradley Center Wednesday evening, as your Milwaukee Bucks dismantled the visiting Indiana Pacers, 122-101 (Note: Anxiety free in this definition means point differential between the two teams, not anything Jason Kidd may or may not have done).
The first quarter featured a heavy dose of Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who paced the Bucks with a combined 20 points. Following one period, Milwaukee led 34-26. Some turnovers and an interesting shot selection dampened the second quarter a tad, but Giannis kept the Bucks afloat. His 21 first half points provided a 10 point cushion heading into the locker room.
Milwaukee would really begin to surge in the third quarter. Three after three was poured in, as the Bucks would eventually lead by 19 points. Heading into the fourth, it was 93-76 in favor of the good guys.
From there, it was clear sailing ahead. It was the first Bucks game in a while that I remember where there was ZERO anxiety at any point in the game. That was nice.
As you might figure, Giannis was the lead man for Milwaukee. He sang his usual tune, posting a double-double with 31 points and 10 rebounds. Khris Middleton was close by in the point total, as he finished with 27 on the night.
For Indiana, Domantas Sabonis notched himself a career night. In Victor Oladipo’s absence, the Lithuanian-born player posted a career-high in points (24 when it was all said and done) and was a major boost off the Indiana bench.
The Bucks didn’t need Eric Bledsoe.
We all know how the Big Three has formed in recent weeks. Last night, only two of those contributed majorly in the points department. Eric Bledsoe took a back seat to the action. Although you’d like to see him put the ball in the hoop more, it was a little relieving knowing the Bucks could cruise to a victory like they did — without any need for him. It’s tough to get everybody’s best contributions in a game, and that’s what happened last night. Thankfully, the Bucks showed that they could rise to the occasion and still snag a victory.
DeAndre Liggins continued to receive minutes.
Add this to the list of questionable Jason Kidd moves. The Kentucky product finished with 23 minutes on the night. Meanwhile, Sterling Brown and Sean Kilpatrick played a combine eight minutes -- and that wasn’t until garbage time late in the fourth. Liggins has continued to show that his value has diminished tremendously, and that his days as a Buck are more than likely winding down.
Good things happen when you move the ball.
It was a Bucks landslide from the get go, and it was in large part due to the ball movement. Early and often the Bucks were making the correct pass, which in turn, sliced open the Indiana defense. Milwaukee ended up finishing with a season high 33 assists on the night. From there, it led to the Bucks finishing with the hot hand at the hoop. A balmy 58.7 percent shooting percentage helped them cruise to the finish line with ease. That was their second best shooting percentage of the season. The team is now 8-2 on the year when shooting 50.0 percent or better.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Thon Maker followed up his season-high 16 points on 4-of-8 shots with several 3-pointers against Toronto by pouring in 12 points off the bench in this one. Remember the whole story of Kidd telling Maker to step in and take two’s? It didn’t impact him too much, as he stroked in a pair of threes from the baseline in this one. That spark against Toronto may have been just what the second year man needed to ignite his season, and he’ll get another chance to demonstrate his abilities against them tomorrow night.
- John Henson came into last night’s game with three straight double-figure efforts. While that brief streak came to an end (he finished with just nine points), he still made an impact on the outcome of the game, finishing with a +19 on the night. When Milwaukee has two centers that can both attack the game flow like that, they’re usually sitting pretty good.
- Matthew Dellavedova nearly matched his assist total from the outing against Toronto (10), as he tallied nine last night. The #DellyDimes have been out in full force as of late, and when they are, the Milwaukee offense plays a pretty melody that catches the ear of any basketball fan.
- If you’re looking at reasons why the Bucks had such a simple victory, you’d be fooled to not think Victor Oladipo’s absence failed to make an impact the game. The Indiana product is averaging 25 points a night, something Indiana clearly was missing last night. It’s safe to say Milwaukee dodged a bullet.
- Domantas Sabonis had himself a night. It was his second time scratching the surface of 20+ points this season, as he climbed to a career-high of 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. It wasn’t like he did it all against one man either, as he had his way with Thon Maker and later Khris Middleton. In a night that was filled with many positives, the Bucks’ continued inability to defend Sabonis was one of the definite pitfalls.
- I was disappointed Lance Stephenson didn’t provide any of his usual antics. I always like it when Lance is his goofy self.