After an odd effort against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, Giannis Antetokounmpo came out of the gates playing like a man on a mission. Electing to have Anthony Tolliver guard him was an interesting decision, and Giannis seemed offended by that choice.
Antetokounmpo made his presence felt, but both Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe were the reasons why Milwaukee was able to build a lead as big as 20-points at one point. In fact, the Bucks looked even better on the second leg of a back-to-back set. Fun times.
Ho hum, another elite effort from soon to be two-time All-Star Khris Middleton. He could do no wrong versus Portland and was clicking on all cylinders. His offensive output in the second half was just plain laughable. No matter what the Blazers were throwing at him, Khris was cooking whoever stood in front of him. He effortlessly dropped 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting while making all four of his shots from deep. While Giannis’ big night might have “overshadowed” Middleton’s output, make no mistake, he was Milwaukee’s best performer offensively for the second consecutive night. He is a special player that many NBA teams would love to have as their second go-to option.
What back injury? Giannis Antetokounmpo came out trying to put the Trail Blazers away early. His performance in the first half was berserk, as he piled up 21 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists in the first half. The home team simply had no answer for the Greek Freak other than to viciously hack him and send him to the foul line. In all, he finished the victory with 32 points, 17 rebounds, and six assists in 29 minutes. Antetokounmpo is having a historic season on both ends of the floor, and him winning both the MVP and Defensive Player Of the Year awards is certainly a high possibility. He is 25 years old. Remember when Carmelo Anthony was chuckling at Giannis his rookie season for trying to check him defensively? LOL.
The best from The Greek Freak:— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 12, 2020
32 PTS | 17 REB | 6 AST | 56% FG pic.twitter.com/N3H6pWUvM4
Eric Bledsoe was awesome in the second half versus Portland. He struggled in the first half offensively and seemed to settle for jumpers rather than attacking the paint and creating for others offensively. Bledsoe’s second-half performance is a big reason why the starters got a ton of rest in the fourth period. Playing against De’Aaron Fox and Damian Lillard in back-to-back nights is no easy task, but Eric put up two elite performances in both of those games. While Lillard was cooking early in the game, his impact was nullified for the most part in the second half. Bledsoe tortured Portland to the tune of 29 points on 11-of-20 shooting while hitting 3-of-5 triples. The bigger the opponent, the more locked in Bledsoe seems to play. Like I said when discussing Khris Middleton’s game, how many NBA teams can say they have a player like Bledsoe as their third option? Can you say, “luxury!”
- If it weren’t for Brook Lopez’s elite defensive prowess, he would be unplayable. His offensive continues to be putrid, but because he continues to stifle opponents defensively, his value to this team cannot be understated. The two missed bunnies he had in the first quarter summed up the season he is currently having offensively.
- It was another awesome effort from Donte DiVincenzo on both ends of the floor. He was a pest defensively while also knocking down jumpers on the offensive end. He is going to have his ups and downs, but he’s earned his spot as the first person off the bench for the Bucks.
- Carmelo Anthony ain’t gonna save the Blazers season, sorry. He scored 19 points and nabbed 11 rebounds, but was a game-low minus-20, and it showed.
- Damian Lillard deserves better. That is all. He had 26 points (on 20 shots) and 5 assists, and attempted to impose his will on the game after catching an arm from Bledsoe. He...just doesn’t have the help that he needs.