In the last regular season game ever at the Bradley Center, the Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the visiting Orlando Magic by a 102-86 score.
Milwaukee wasted no time in starting the festivities. Scoring was frequently found throughout the first quarter, building the Bucks a 31-21 lead after one. However, a 10 minute drought where Milwaukee would score just a small handful of points would let Orlando back into it. When halftime rolled around, the Bucks somehow clung to a slim 45-42 lead.
Thankfully, the third quarter would prove to be kinder to the hometown team. Milwaukee leapt back out in front, closing out the quarter on a run to establish a 74-67 lead. From there, the Bucks were able to throw things into cruise control. It honestly felt as if things became a pick-up game down the stretch. We even got to see some DJ Wilson minutes! But in the end, Milwaukee was able to pick up the W, 102-86.
Have a game, Shabazz Muhammad!
Wow. What an impact Muhammad had on this game. He proved to be the engine that provided the spark from the Milwaukee bench and really catapulted this game into the Bucks’ favor. When the night was over, he had tallied 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting. I’ll run off this some more in my next observation, but to have guys like Muhammad contributing like this is spectacular. What’s one common thing that successful playoff teams all have in common? A good bench. Last night, Muhammad helped provide that.
Once again, the Bucks showed they could win without Giannis Antetokounpmo.
Giannis was sidelined due to rest for his ankle, and thankfully, Milwaukee was able to still come out on top. One of the reasons why I’m sort of beginning to believe that this team can in fact make some noise in the playoffs? They seem to be better playing without their star player. No, I’m not saying they’re better without Giannis. But the way the team has been able to command themselves when he’s not starting is impressive — you have to tip your cap. Players like Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton are stepping up and contributing in ways you want to see. God forbid something happens to Giannis in the postseason, whether it be injury or foul trouble — but it’s nice to see the guys holding down the fort with him off the floor.
Eric Bledsoe is really coming alive.
There are still a few Bucks fans on Twitter who are against Eric Bledsoe, but they haven’t been as loud as of late. The Kentucky product proved to be the leading scorer for the Giannis-less Bucks, scoring 20 points on the night. His aggression proved to be one of the tones that set Milwaukee apart from Orlando. Mix in the fact that he’s been shooting a hot hand from deep and the contributions continue to soar. If Bledsoe plays like this in the playoffs, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bucks move onto the next round. He’s been that good.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Tony Snell scored nine points, so I’ll call that a win. We all know he’s been mightily struggling as of late, but he did score double-digit points against the Knicks. He almost did last night as well, which is why I’m going to chalk that up as a W. The bar is set pretty low right now.
- Obviously, last night was the return of Malcolm Brogdon. It simply looked and felt great to have him back out on the floor. The movement of the basketball and overall correlation with his teammates seemed to advance to the next level with him on the floor. Unfortunately, there’s only one game left before the playoffs start so things will continue moving pretty rapidly. Chemistry will have to be gained before the drama starts, so let’s hope Brogdon & Co. are up to the challenge.
- How on Earth did the Bucks land up in the No. 6 spot? Beats me, but I’ll take it. There’s still work to be done, as a win would fully claim the six seed for Milwaukee. It’d also mean Milwaukee would be able to keep its first round pick in this draft, which I’m all for. Some people have claimed they’d rather forfeit the pick this season if it meant the team would get to match up with Boston, but I’d have to respectfully disagree. I’m a believer that this pick will serve Milwaukee some good and that they’d matchup better against a young Philadelphia team. I’m also scared at how Brad Stevens would exploit the Bucks’ flaws.
- Ah, the last regular season game at the Bradley Center. I’m going to miss that place and all its ugliness. What are some of your favorite memories from the Fortress on 4th Street? Comment below!
- Speaking of the Bradley Center, I’m obligated to share this with you all. One of my favorite quirks of the BC that I’m going to miss: