Dunks and threes were the theme of the first quarter. Every possession seemed to have Milwaukee out and running as they built up a double digit lead, headlined by Giannis and Brook Lopez. The shooting from deep would cool off, with Milwaukee finishing the quarter at a clip of 4-of-10 from deep and holding a 33-29 lead.
But then the offense started to click. And my oh my, how fun was that to watch. Khris Middleton was hotter than a Scott Skiles face after receiving a technical. He poured in 14 points, including three 3-pointers. A big positive was that Middleton & Co. reclaimed the double-digit lead without the aid of Giannis, who sat a chunk of the quarter on the bench. As halftime came, Milwaukee groomed a 71-52 lead.
However, they say you live and die by the three — and in the third quarter, that was somewhat true. The Knicks scratched themselves back into the game thanks to missed shots from the perimeter by Milwaukee (the turnovers didn’t help either), and on their heavy midrange conversions. New York would end up slashing the lead to just a single point as the two teams headed into the fourth quarter.
But thankfully, the Bucks had the better players when it was all said and done. Their talent carried them to victory, with clutch 3-pointers conducting too much electricity for the Knicks to handle. Milwaukee would pick up the win down the stretch by a score of 124-113.
Despite Middleton’s magnificent performance, Giannis Antetokounmpo would carry the Bucks in the scoring column with 31 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Middleton was right on his tail though, finishing with 30 of his own. The rest of the Bucks starters (B. Lopez, E. Bledsoe, and M. Brogdon), as well as Ersan Ilyasova, would also tally double-digits.
Tim Hardaway Jr. was the leading scorer for New York with 24 points. Trey Burke put forth 19 of his own, while Enes Kanter wrapped his night up with 14. Noah Vonleh, Mario Hezonja, and Damyean Dotson would notch double figures off the bench.
The Bucks are back at it at Fiserv Forum when they battle the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow night in a game that should be heavily contested. These two teams provided some stellar matchups last season, with one of them actually having a flock of Sixers fans in the stands to “prove a point” about Malcolm Brogdon winning ROY (even though he was out of that game).
Khris Middleton was ASTONISHING this game and has been insane so far this season.
Wow. Just wow. At one point, he hit three consecutive threes. People have been saying that this is the year Middleton could shine his way onto the All-Star team, and man, has it looked like there’s a good chance that could happen. I know, I know — we’re only three games into the season. But in those three games, Middleton is shooting 15-of-23 from beyond the arc. He’s the complementary force that pairs so well with Giannis, and under Bud’s supervision, this duo could soar to new levels.
Giannis is still not getting the calls.
Despite the 31 point performance, Giannis is still getting thwacked down in the paint without the whistle being blown — which surprises me (and everyone else on Bucks Twitter). We’ve been saying for a while that he’ll start to get the calls that other superstars get in this league, but we’ve never seen it on a consistent level. What does he have to do? Is it because he’s an alien-like talent that these referees have never seen before? Is it because of Milwaukee being a small-market team? Whatever it is, it’s quite frustrating.
This team is so fun to watch.
I’ll admit — Due to being so heavily invested in the Brewers, I haven’t watched a single Bucks game up until last night (though I watched the final two minutes of the season opener vs. Charlotte). It’s sort of hard to explain. Of course I’m aware that Budenholzer was the new Bucks coach. However, just due to past tendencies when covering games, I felt like I was expecting disappointing Jason Kidd-style basketball. It was sort of a psychological thing, ya know? Then...boom, boom, boom! Three after three! Dunk after dunk! I don’t think the stat board in front of me was keeping up. I knew the offense was good, but like I said, since all my attention was focused on the Brewers (sigh, I WISH WE WERE PLAYING IN BOSTON TONIGHT...), I had never seen too much of it. I’m glad to be a part of this now. Let’s just hope they learn how to eliminate coughing up 19-point leads.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Woah. We shoot a lot of threes. Following up franchise record 46 3-pointers on Friday, the Bucks hoisted up 24 last night. They were on pace for more, but that changed throughout the game. It’s pretty clear the mindset Bud wants to take on the offensive side of the ball, and when implemented clearly, this team is dangerous.
- Man, I love having Ersan back in Milwaukee. He finished with 10 points off the bench. If you remember correctly, the Turkish Thunder was on the Bucks back during the PURPLE AND GREEN years. Yes, the PURPLE AND GREEN. It’s so nostalgic seeing him take the floor with this team, even if it is with an obscure No. 77 on his back. I’m just glad to hear Eric Jensen, the Bucks PA announcer, go “Errssaaaaaaaannnn Ilyasoooooovaaaaaaaa!” again. Oh, and I LOVE seeing him planting his feet to earn a charge. Nobody in the Association is better than Ersan at that.
- For as much frustration Eric Bledsoe caused at times last season, he had quite a respectable game last night. Last year, his game-high in assists was 11. Last night, he scratched out 13. In his postgame availability, he addressed that that’s his duty as a point guard — to facilitate the basketball. If Giannis and Khris continue to mesh this well together and Lopez fills out down low at the center position, a pass-friendly Eric Bledsoe may push this Bucks team over the top.
- Fiserv Forum is incredible. Just incredible. If you haven’t gotten down there yet for a game, get down there ASAP. The game-watching experience is out-of-this-world. First off, it’s so weird to see the concourse from the sitting bowl and vise versa. You can actually walk around while also watching the game. Second, the sound system is astounding. I had gone to see The Killers when they opened up the arena, but like I said, this was my first basketball game at the arena — and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it may have been slightly too loud, but my ears will get used to it. There’s also like a bajillion other things that’ll blow your mind when you walk through the arena doors, but I’ll let you figure out all those.
- Oh, and as long as we’re talking sound systems, let’s talk about the new Bucks locker room. Wow. I swear that the sound system in there may’ve been better than that at the Bradley Center.