This game was ugly from the opening tip with both teams missing wide-open looks and the Warriors turning the ball over at will. The ugliness continued for the entire contest, but the Bucks were able to finally gain some separation in the third and held on for their 33rd victory of the season.
The Golden State Warriors made it a point of emphasis to double team Giannis Antetokounmpo nearly every time he touched the ball. While he did not have much room to operate offensively, he was still finding open teammates all throughout the victory. However, the shots were not falling. Giannis finished with only four assists, but could have easily finished with close to 10. It was just one of those games. The few times he did have room to operate, he would finish in traffic even with multiple defenders draped all over him. Giannis made 10-of-21 shots from the field but did miss 6-of-7 attempts from deep. He air-balled a three, free throw, and even missed an open dunk in the lane. This game was probably past his bedtime, too. Also, if I recall, last night was also the first time an opponent deployed the hack-a-Giannis strategy. I could also totally be wrong, too.
Khris Middleton’s third quarter performance certainly helped propel the Bucks to victory. Like most of his teammates, he was clanking shots all night, but came alive in the third once Giannis went to the bench for his usual rest. He started knocking down an array of jumpers and facilitated the ball efficiently and effectively to help Milwaukee build a double-digit lead. Overall, Middleton poured in 21 points, seven rebounds, and six assists while turning the ball over once in 33 minutes. He and Brook Lopez have developed some serious chemistry on the floor, as Middleton was feeding him for open looks from deep and on a sick alley-oop finish. The Bucks needed someone to step up with the offense not clicking, and #22 answered.
It was not a spectacular game by any means for Brook Lopez, but his defense stood out like a sore thumb last night. I guess the Warriors did not get the memo that opponents are shooting only 39.4% at the rim against Lopez this season. Possession after possession, they would attack the paint with little to no success. Honestly, that 39.4% is probably lower after the victory. Offensively, the Bucks went to him for some buckets in the low post with the three-ball clearly not working out in their favor. In all, he contributed 12 points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocked shots in 28 minutes. Even with his continued shooting woes from deep, his interior defense just keeps getting better. Can you say, “Defensive Player Of the Year?”
- Donte DiVincenzo was fantastic defensively. His ninja instincts were on full display as he was telegraphing passes all night long and soaring way up top to secure rebounds. His eight points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals performance was some of his finest work this season. He truly is a pest defensively. Now, if only his 3-point shot would fall; he went 0-5 in this one.
- Eric Bledsoe scored a quiet 16 points (eight coming from the free throw line) in 30 minutes. He found himself open on the perimeter last night quite frequently, but was very hesitant on pulling the trigger.
- The Bucks shot 40.2% from the field and made only 9-of-41 three-pointers. I guess if you are going to wet the bed offensively and still win, this was the opponent to do it against.