Make no mistake, the Milwaukee Bucks made a gargantuan statement in their 104-99 victory over the Toronto Raptors in The Six. The Raptors currently hold the best record in the NBA and were 21-6 overall, and 11-3 at home before the Bucks came to town. Not only is this triumph on the road HUGE for the morale of the locker room, but Milwaukee also secured a tiebreaker (at worst) in the season series against Toronto.
Bucks go to 2-0 vs. Raptors, clinch at least a split of head to head tiebreaker.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 10, 2018
Down the line, division winner tiebreaker (for both teams) could come into play, but as it stands, really good win for Milwaukee. https://t.co/5CC84UE6bL
It wasn’t the prettiest of performances for Giannis Antetokounmpo last night, but he did very well against a tough Raptors defense. The Raps threw the kitchen sink at the Greek Freak all night long, but he still managed to compile 19 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists, and one block in 37 minutes. He also shot 8-of-15 (including one three) from the floor, and per usual, dominated in the paint. He had countless step-through finishes in the lane and a few dunks to add to his ledger. This was his first matchup of the season versus Toronto, so it was very interesting to see how they played him defensively. Giannis is just absolutely fearless. Can your superstar make this look so easy? NOPE.
Giannis. Unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/jW7o4LYWIn— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 9, 2018
The President Malcolm Brogdon played an instrumental role in helping propel the Milwaukee Bucks to the finish line on Sunday night. He finished with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting while knocking down 3-of-5 three-pointers in 32 turnover-less minutes of action. He also finished plus-9. It’s no secret how much trust head coach Mike Budenholzer has in Brogdon, and last night was a perfect example of why. With Milwaukee trailing with just over a minute left, he hit a three to tie the game, then came back the next possession to sink another three-pointer to put the Bucks ahead for good. Malcolm Brogdon has proven in the past that there’s no moment too big for him, and he continues to excel under pressure. Big shot Brogdon, baby!
Coming off of the bench, Sterling Brown was absolutely fearless. His 5 points and 7 rebounds in 22 minutes won’t jump off the screen, but Brown played a big part in helping Milwaukee maintain a lead throughout. He’s so aggressive on defense, it’s hard not to be enamored with his tenacity on that side of the ball. Like we saw in his rookie year last season, Sterling certainly isn’t going to back down, no matter whom he’s guarding. Last night in the few possessions he matched up against star Kawhi Leonard, Brown won the battle multiple times. His wide frame makes him incredibly difficult to back down and shoot over, and in fact, he indeed sonned Kawhi on Sunday night. Let’s have another look, shall we?
This Bucks @ Raptors game is fun. Pretty impressive play by Sterling Brown to deny Kawhi at the rim pic.twitter.com/JgvJfW8bR4— UnwrittenRules (@UnwrittenRul3s) December 9, 2018
Sterling’s minutes have been trending upwards in the last couple of games, and it has certainly paid dividends for Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks. It’s awesome to see Budenholzer’s ability to keep tinkering with lineups to help find a right fit on the floor. Not to mention, he also finished a team-high plus-12. The Bucks have a nice complimentary piece in Sterling Brown coming off the bench.
Again, Brook Lopez continued to show his worth for the Milwaukee Bucks this season with another solid performance. He finished with 19 points while making 5-of-8 threes and provided a multitude of driving lanes for easy baskets just by being on the court and standing on the perimeter. Do not be fooled, however. Lopez has put the ball on the floor at a higher frequency in recent games and has proven that he’s still got that patented soft touch in the paint. I loved how coach Bud stuck with him even when Raptors big man Serge Ibaka was on the floor. Lopez gave up a decent amount of open looks from deep, but by all means, you definitely do not mind Ibaka taking 11 three-pointers. He made only 4 of them. Brilliant coaching decision.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- It wasn’t his greatest offensive output, but Khris Middleton did a lot of good things for the Bucks last night. He provided some tough defense on Kawhi Leonard and even had the two assists on the Bucks’ two baskets (Brogdon threes) that sealed the victory. Middleton is mired in a pretty bad offensive funk, but it’s hard to be discouraged with how he played against Toronto.
- Eric Bledsoe was pretty wild against the Raptors and made a lot of questionable plays. However, in 33 minutes of game time he even held Raps point guard Kyle Lowry scoreless. I don’t think any of us saw that coming. E-Bled only scored 9 points and the Bucks still won. Pretty, pretty good.
- “Toronto Thon” is absolutely a thing. I have no doubt that if the Bucks played every regular season game against the Raptors that Thon Maker would be the NBA MVP. Kidding aside, he played a great game in only 8 minutes off the bench. He immediately provided a spark on both ends and finished with 5 points and 3 blocked shots. Thon is the real Six God.
- The Bucks only shot 41.4% from the floor but made up for it by making 15-of-39 threes (38.5%).
- The Milwaukee Bucks are undefeated in the Jason Smith era.