On a Friday night at Fiserv Forum, the Bucks secured a season series win over the visiting Miami Heat and raced out to a 116-87 victory.
It was a happy sight having Giannis Antetokounmpo back in the starting lineup, and he immediately showed why. Right off the bat, he wasted no time in quickly piling up 11 points. Milwaukee wouldn’t gain much separation in the first quarter, but an Ersan Ilyasova 3-pointer to close out the period transitioned the Bucks into the second.
The Greek Freak would continue to be a force, even after a brief scare with his ankle. He’d help boost the Bucks’ lead to 63-51 moving into halftime. That Khris Middleton fell also had a strong first half, posting 12 points with five assists.
Milwaukee kept cruising through the third, giving the Heat zero chance of making any sort of comeback. There never was really any question that the Bucks were the better team on the court, and they made that quite apparent throughout the third and fourth periods. At one time, they’d hold a 29 point advantage. When it was all said and done, it was quite the walk in the park for Milwaukee, as they eventually proclaimed a 116-87 victory.
The Heat would not have a single player go over 14 points, as Hassan Whiteside was their team leader. No starter would score over 13 points.
Khris Middleton read your tweets.
Yes, yours. He saw it. It was another All-Star-esque performance for K-Midd, as he nearly completed his evening with a triple-double. In the end, he’d fall just short. However, his 18 points, eight rebounds, and ten assists would be a large reason why Milwaukee ultimately prevailed. I mentioned it in my Rapid Recap, but if there’s a time for Middleton to start playing his best basketball of the season, it’s now. The culmination of Malcolm Brogdon being out and the Bucks playing for the No. 1 seed, his contributions couldn’t be coming at a better time. With Milwaukee facing some tough opponents coming up, any additional assistance from No. 22 will be greatly appreciated.
The Bucks’ defense was beautiful last night.
Milwaukee did a terrific job of containing the Heat in the paint. Miami’s coach Erik Spoelstra tipped his cap to Budenholzer and his staff in his presser, saying the Bucks did a spectacular job of sealing off the Heat’s abilities in the paint. It makes a pretty big difference when Giannis is back out there, and it shows. His defensive play really separates him in this league (cough cough to a certain player in the Western Conference). It also helped that the Heat couldn’t really capitalize on any open threes, but the Bucks’ defense was clearly frustrating Miami all night long.
It’s so nice having Giannis back.
We were immediately reminded of this when Giannis quickly poured in 11 points to start things off. In the end, he’d tally his 44th game of the season with 25+ points, as his game-high 27 points (12-19 FG) would be strung together with eight rebounds and seven assists. Just another night at the office for the Greek Freak. I know James Harden dropped 61 points, but it’s a little frustrating that the national media blushes over that without taking Antetokounmpo’s stat line into consideration. I still think Giannis is the favorite to win the MVP and probably will, but man, it’s going to be a fun matchup on Tuesday night when the Rockets make their lone appearance to Fiserv Forum.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Talking about Giannis, he went down to the floor again this game, and once again, you could hear a pin drop at Fiserv Forum. I could feel my heartbeat pick up, as I’m sure many of you did. That moment of dread always seems like an hour. Thankfully, he was able to hop back up and postgame in the locker room declared himself fine. However, it really does make you think how healthy he actually is. Let’s just hope that the one seed can soon be wrapped up and we won’t have to worry about this.
- It’s also nice to have Sterling Brown back. He didn’t do much (just four points on 2-of-6 shooting), but nonetheless, it’s another body that the Bucks can have in the rotation with things so bleak.
- Giannis has some pretty good dance moves:
- When the ball goes through the hoop, it’s usually pretty good news — and it’s no different for the Bucks. Whenever they shoot 50 percent or better, Milwaukee is 22-1. Following last night’s win, they’ve outshot their opponent 54 times and own a 52-2 record in those contests. Yesterday was the seventh time they have shot at least 50 percent or more while holding their opponent to under 40 percent shooting.
- It’s always cool to see Dwyane Wade return to Milwaukee, even though it feels as if his goodbye tour to the city has come through like 200 times in the last two years. Seeing his face light up when he talks to the media about his college days is priceless. Definitely cool to see.
- Milwaukee had another strong performance on the glass last night. After hauling in 52 boards, they have now posted an NBA-high 40 games with 50+ rebounds, which is tied with the 2015-16 Oklahoma City Thunder for second-most in the NBA over the last 40 seasons. That’s pretty exciting. Shout out to Pat Connaughton and his performance in the rebound department as well, as he reached double-digit boards for just the second time this season.
- Last but not least, this was awesome:
I just wonder who keeps Wade’s jersey — Giannis or Khris?