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Milwaukee vs. Atlanta: Bucks Carve Hawks, 111-102

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The Bucks are now 15-3. Happy Thanksgiving!

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

In a somewhat close game at times, the Bucks would knock off the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Thanksgiving Eve, 111-102. Milwaukee is now riding a nine-game win streak, and have achieved their best 18-game start to a season since 1973-74 (also 18-3).

Our #OldFriend Jabari Parker would be the story in the opening minutes of the game, scoring all of Atlanta’s first eight points. Nonetheless, the Hawks wouldn’t put forth the same energy as a combined unit. The Bucks stormed ahead very early on, carving out a 33-17 lead advancing into the second quarter, paced by Brook Lopez’s nine points and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s eight points. Milwaukee would close out the period on an 18-0 run.

It’d be a similar tale in the second quarter, with the Bucks playing this one in cruise control. With less than five minutes left, the Hawks would scratch their way into single-digit point territory, due to a flurry of Bucks foul calls. It really felt that without those whistles, Milwaukee would’ve been up by much, much, more. What was a 17 point advantage in favor of the home team evaporated into just a single point lead going into half, as Trae Young sank a three as the horn sounded.

That 18-0 run that the Bucks closed out the first quarter on? It’d be followed up by a 49-29 run by the Hawks. The defense would continue to be shaky throughout the third, as Milwaukee just seemed dazed and confused. Sloppy defense, cold shooting, and more provided a recipe for Atlanta to claim the lead — which they did. Going into the fourth quarter, the Hawks led, 82-81.

It’d remain a close one about halfway through the fourth, when an Eric Bledsoe layup would provide the spark that Milwaukee needed to cross the finish line. From there, they’d embark on a run that’d see them close out a win in comfortable fashion, securing a 111-102 victory and establishing a nine-game winning streak.

Giannis Antetokounmpo would extend his double-double streak to 18 games, wrapping up his evening with a solid effort of 30 points and eight rebounds. Khris Middleton would mix in 16 points in his return to the floor. Ersan Ilyasova would also contribute with 13 of his own.

Our #OldFriend Jabari Parker would lead the Hawks in scoring with a game-high 33 points on 13-of-23 shooting. The exciting phenomenon that is Trae Young wrapped up his night with 29 points.

Three Observations

Well, I think it’s safe to say that Jabari enjoys playing against the Bucks.

We’ve seen it before and it was no different last night. Whenever Jabari Parker goes up against the Bucks, he always has a chip on his shoulder — and it was the case again, as he poured in 33 points yesterday. We saw it last season when he was a member of the Bulls, and history repeated itself. In his postgame availability, Giannis, who covered Jabari, was asked if there were flashbacks to Jabari’s time spent in Milwaukee. He responded by talking about how much Jabari loves playing 1-on-1:

“At the end of the day, Jabari’s such a good player 1-on-1. You just try to not get out of your game because you know he loves to do that. You know that he wants you to play 1-on-1 with him because he’s so good at it. But at the end of the day, after the second quarter, I tried to focus on the team and getting it done.”

He then confirmed that Jabari scored 33 points, and then expressed relief at how he didn’t surpass the most points ever scored on him (Rudy Gay with 36). Charles Gardner then notified him that 36 was also Jabari’s career-high, to which Giannis responded, “Thank God he didn’t get 37. I’d be so pissed.”

It’s quite nice to have Khris Middleton back.

It was a surprise to everybody that Middleton was returning last night, but boy oh boy, did the Bucks appreciate having him back. Bud wouldn’t reveal how many minutes he was going to play him, and it turns out that the answer was just under 20 minutes. He got a good amount of action, including the ability to close out the game. Here’s what Mike Budenholzer had to say about his return:

“I thought kind of vintage Khris. You know, he had a couple good looks. You could’ve had a bigger first night with a couple open looks. But overall, I thought he was really good offensively. He understands how to get people involved. He can make reads and decisions. He can play for himself, but he can play for others. He does a lot of things well. I think he just calms the group down. You know he’s a smart, smart player. He understands what we want to do. So, you know it’s great to have him back.”

As for the man himself? He was definitely relieved. He stressed how good it was to be out with the guys, especially with how he’s been around them in the whole rehabbing process — from flying on the plane, to being at practice with them, and participating in huddles. You can tell he’s worked his tail to get healthy and is clearly itching to make an impact, which will surely happen.

Though he doesn’t stand out on the stat sheet, I thought Ersan made some large contributions.

Sure, he’s never the flashiest player. He never has the most points. He never has the most rebounds. But Ersan Ilyasova always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He seems to provide the juice when the team needs it. Last night, he scored a season-high tying 13 points, going 5-of-7 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. This was his fourth game this season scoring in double figures. Budenholzer was asked about his in his postgame presser, and here’s what he had to say:

“Ersan is such a smart player. I think tonight he finally found a way to get to the offensive boards and get some put-backs. I felt like he got fouled at the end of the first half on a no call. But he’s finding ways to get those kind of little, just kind of feel plays and change-of-momentum plays, and I think he really helps us.”

Bud summed it up perfectly. It’s the grittiness of Ilyasova’s play that provides a good chunk of that motor that gets the Bucks really revved up when needed. I like to think of it as the glue that holds the foundation together. When things start to bend, ol’ reliable is there, and that’s Ersan.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Jabari’s fingerprints were all over last night’s game, but I do have to say...it felt very odd seeing him wear that No. 5 jersey. I honestly don’t know the exact reason why. Is it because I’m so used to seeing him wear No. 12 with the Bucks? Is it because he just doesn’t look like the type of player that wears that number? I don’t know, man. It just looks off.
  • There was a period in the first half where Vince Carter guarded Giannis on some possessions, and let’s just say that it didn’t end well for the veteran:

Sheeeeeesh.

  • The one worry that remains to be seen in Giannis’ game is his free throws. Last night, he went 5-of-13 from the charity stripe, and it’d take him seven attempts to finally sink one. Sooner or later he’s gotta start picking up the pace, otherwise I’m pretty sure that Blogfather Frank is going to suffer a stroke or something.
  • This was an interesting response from Giannis on the Jabari/Milwaukee storyline that came to fruition early yesterday:
  • It was a compelling night for Eric Bledsoe. The point guard would rack up six assists before even attempting a field goal. When it was all said and done, he’d tally 10 assists, the first time in which he’s reached that double-digit territory. The Bucks are now 9-1 when Bledsoe has 10+ assists in a game.
  • Though he had a slow start in this one, Wes Matthews would once again reach double-digits on the night. He’d complete his outing with 10 points, making it five consecutive games with double figures.
  • Alright, time for the important stuff...THANKSGIVING! During his postgame availability, Giannis was asked if he celebrates the holiday, to which he responded yes. I then asked him what his favorite Thanksgiving food is. Check out his response:

Mood.

  • As for myself, here’s what I’ll be eating today: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, maybe some cranberries if I’m feeling up to it, green bean casserole, some more stuffing, and a piece of pumpkin pie. How about you guys?
  • Last, Happy Thanksgiving to everybody reading this post! I know I speak for not just myself but the whole Brew Hoop staff when I say we are all extremely thankful for each and every one of you. Safe travels if you’re going anywhere!