In a game that featured two of the most up-and-coming teams in all of basketball, the Milwaukee Bucks came out on top as they knocked off the Philadelphia 76ers, 123-108. The Bucks are now 4-0 for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
It took a bit for the Bucks to get going in this one. Milwaukee would shoot ten 3-pointers in the first quarter, with the only converted one coming from Brook Lopez late in the period. While initially keeping it close despite the cold shooting, the Sixers built a 34-22 lead moving into the second quarter.
We witnessed the beginning of Brook Lopez’s transition into Milwaukee folk legend status during the second quarter. Throughout the period, he’d connect on four threes, much to the crowd’s delight. It’d be the leading force that propelled the Bucks to a 71-64 lead heading into the locker room.
Boy, was that third quarter uggggglyyyyy. It ended up not costing the Bucks too much, but at times, they looked pretty sluggish. However, Philly was never really able to take full advantage, and Milwaukee wiggled their way out of any real potential danger.
The fourth quarter would serve pretty uneventful as well, other then the Sixers knocking the lead down to single deficits a couple times. However, even then there never seemed to be an imminent threat. Milwaukee seemed to maintain their poise for the majority of the game, which is something that this team has had trouble doing in years past. When the final horn sounded, the Bucks left Fiserv Forum with a 123-108 win.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was the highlight of the night for this one. He notched his first triple-double of the season, corralling a final stat line of 32/18/15. As you might expect, Khris Middleton was next in line with 25 points. Brook Lopez then wrapped up the offensive showing with 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting from deep.
Joel Embiid led the Sixers in points and rebounds during this contest, putting forth a 30/19 night. Former Buck JJ Redick came off the bench with 19 points of his own.
The Bucks will now make the short trip to Minnesota for a border battle with the Timberwolves tomorrow.
If Giannis doesn’t think he’s playing his best basketball, what IS his best basketball???
Okay, this is something that we as fans can tell — Giannis isn’t really looking like Giannis. He’s having great games, but there’s still room for improvement. However, it’s a little “scary” when you hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. So Antetokounmpo is now up to a stat line of 28.5 / 16.5 (!!!) / 6.8 on the season, yet in his postgame availability, he mentioned to us that he feels like he’s playing “B basketball.” If that’s his B basketball, what on Earth is his A basketball??? Oh, and those 16.5 rebounds? That leads the entire National Basketball Association.
As simple and cliche as it sounds, this team having fun is a huge difference from last season.
This is obviously something the fans can tell from watching the games on television, but just know that the same excited attitude is going on behind-the-scenes as well. Music was once again bumping in the locker room, players were joking with each other, and everybody seemed to have a loose, care-free attitude going about them. I asked Eric Bledsoe about what type of identity he feels this team is developing four games into the season, and he responded with that — everybody is having fun. When the team chemistry is strong both on and off the court, special things are bound to happen. It occurs in every sport too (look at the Brewers). Bud has this team in a special mindset, and it’ll be very fun watching it move forward.
Brook Lopez is not only making a major impact on offense, but defense as well.
One of the highlights of Giannis’ postgame was when he was asked about Lopez’s efforts on Embiid. He literally stopped talking and began pondering to himself...Man, how did we defend Embiid last season? It was certainly a valid question to raise, as despite his 30 point, 19 rebound effort, Lopez was really able to mitigate any potential of him singlehandedly taking over the game. It’s so calming to know that the Bucks have a tall body down low that can reel in rebounds like a Hungry Hungry Hippo and that can anchor the defense in a positive manner.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- I just got done discussing Lopez’s defensive abilities, but we can’t let his offensive sparks go unnoticed. Philadelphia was content at letting the Stanford product shoot at will to start things off, and at first, it wasn’t going his way. He began an ice-cold 0-for-4, but kept on shooting — and eventually, he found his groove. He’d have the Forum on its feet during the second quarter, as he connected on four threes that helped push Milwaukee to a big lead. Once again, him being able to be a legitimate threat from deep expands this offense to a capability that should benefit this team in the long run.
- Lopez wasn’t the only Buck that began with a cold spell. Nobody could really make a connection from beyond the arc early on, but this team’s aggressive mindset and belief in the 3-ball had fans wanting more shots. That’s what they did, and by golly, it eventually worked. That’s the sort of confidence you like to see exhausted from the guys on the floor. As soon as the confidence starts to waver, that’s when you get in trouble. I’ll admit, the live-and-die by the three mentality that Milwaukee is forming does have a strong chance of backfiring in the future, but if it does, who cares if it fails for a game or two when it works for the other 85 percent of the games?
- Rookie Donte DiVincenzo has had an above average start to the season, but last night gave him fits. He was assigned to Redick most of the night, and at times was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Hopefully it was an off-night, as that’s perfectly understandable due to the fact that he’s a learning rookie. It’ll be intriguing to see if Bud enlists more playing time to Sterling Brown. We still haven’t really seen his capabilities in this offense, but if DDV’s stumbles into a bit of a rookie phase, I could see the leash getting a little shorter.
- It was also a slow start for Malcolm Brogdon. He finished with nine points on the evening but shot an icy 0-for-4 from deep — some shots were quite off as well. This is a player the Bucks will need to trend north moving forward. He just hasn’t looked like his normal self, and while it’s definitely nowhere near panic mode, it’s certainly worth noting.
- Last, I remain committed to my conspiracy theory that a TJ McConnell impersonator plays for the Sixers:
This is not the same TJ McConnell that was at Arizona pic.twitter.com/UAJoiiNlp4— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) October 25, 2018