Sometimes a big night from deep is coming your way, and that was the case for the Milwaukee Bucks tonight in their 129-115 victory over the Brooklyn Nets this evening. The Bucks didn’t look like their shooting stroke was on point this Saturday, but Brook Lopez heated up for nine points in the first to give them a 29-23 advantage after one. After stroking a couple 3-pointers to finish out the half, Milwaukee opened up a 71-52 gashing lead at halftime. Brooklyn continued to let Milwaukee make rain in the third, as the Bucks snagged a 106-86 lead with the fourth quarter set to start. The final period featured some typically plucky Nets comeback, but Milwaukee squashed it with some clutch Giannis jumpers.
Brook Breaks Free
Jarrett Allen is a destructive blocker, his dominating stuff of Giannis was a prominent example tonight. However, that also necessitates him staying near the rim to help the Nets protect the paint, particularly with their weak defensive frontcourt players of Kurucs or old Buck Jared Dudley. Still, that meant that Brook Lopez was free to patrol the perimeter tonight, having free reign to space the floor and accept feeds from Milwaukee players. He’s paid those passes off almost all year, but tonight he made the most of his open space with a 7-15 shooting performance from deep (8-17 overall) for 24 points. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and he pulled out some dishes from the freezer for this game against former coach Kenny Atkinson. With 18 in the first half alone, he was ready to make it rain.
Fouling Proves Fickle
Brooklyn showed an incredible ability to draw fouls tonight, even in the midrange section when their pump fakes drew Milwaukee defenders into difficult situations. It was quite surprising given their lack of dominant personnel and Milwaukee’s propensity for keeping away from fouling their opponents and giving them easy points at the line. The fact they were able to win so handily tonight, despite doing so, was quite impressive. To this point, Milwaukee led the league, per Cleaning the Glass, in terms of opponent free throw attempts per 100 field goal attempts. Brooklyn’s 35 free throw attempts tonight were the second most Milwaukee allowed this year, only to Boston’s 36 they took in the Bucks win on December 21st.
A Quiet Place
I’ve been a big fan of Bledsoe’s play this year. Less forced shots, fewer pull-ups from three the second he reaches the arc, more in-control jumpers within the offense. It’s all seemed good. Tonight was another night where I thought he melded into the offense, which seems like the right choice on most nights. Despite some mistakes or forced drives where he turned the ball over though, I still see times where he blows past defenders like he’s the Flash versus The Thing and I wonder why he’s not more aggressive going to the rim. He also didn’t get a chance to return late in this game when Brooklyn was mounting a small comeback, as George Hill got the nod in front of him. Bledsoe has been, in my opinion, the Bucks second best player tonight, but his interestingly passive approach to occasional games remains an intriguing subplot to this season.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Jarrett Allen may’ve gotten posterized by Giannis in year’s past, but Allen got his revenge today by greeting Giannis at the summit and shoving his dunk attempt down the mountainside.
- Kurucs, in contrast, remains a mere mortal as Giannis medusa-dunked him into a stone statue.
Giannis gets immediate revenge pic.twitter.com/6GXJak2JZm— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 29, 2018
- D.J. Wilson continues to be a bit tentative finishing around the basket, but tonight he saw the Nets bearing down on him and managed to contort his body and find Brook Lopez around the arc for a triple. Even if he can’t muster the strength to get his way up under the rim, having a semblance of court vision will continue to make his minutes on the court meaningful.
- Giannis hit two damn 3-pointers this game, that is all.
- An underrated part of Giannis’ ascension has been his confidence in throwing no-look dishes to guys on the perimeter. Today, he grabbed one and shoveled a sweet-looking toss in to Sterling Brown’s shooting pocket, and even if he missed it, it still adds some panache to Giannis’ game.
- Sterling Brown has certainly improved this year, showing an increased confidence that’s earned him additional minutes over Pat Connaughton in the last 20 or so games. However, the additional finishing ability he flashed over summer league didn’t quite translate tonight. He’s been much better in the restricted area this year, 64.9% on more volume than his rookie year, but I hope those additional shots down low, coupled with his strength, helps him draw more fouls to compensate for any time he can’t finish down low. At this point though, any abilities beyond 3-pointers are prominent pluses in Brown’s camp.
- I try not to complain too much against Giannis offensive fouls because it’s a slippery slope, but the one DeMarre Carroll drew in the fourth quarter was completely bunk given the fact Giannis has gotten that call all year long. All I ask is for consistency.
- Milwaukee hit their second-most 3-pointers in team history tonight, nailing 21 on the evening.
- This is nuts.