Sometimes you have to wait a while for your revenge. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait as long as Edmond Dantès, as the Milwaukee Bucks prepare for Game 2 of the opening round of the NBA Playoffs, seeking to tie the series with the Orlando Magic.
If you think that the Bucks are stressing about having their playoff debut upset, think again:
Positive energy only. pic.twitter.com/PLgRjy9TZV— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 20, 2020
Milwaukee Bucks, more like Milwaukee good blokes.— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) August 20, 2020
My brother sent me this today and I reckon @nmonroe had something to do with it. Thanks for making me feel at home the last few years, it's been a blast! pic.twitter.com/aEOXGuPXlW
Some may be frustrated about the seemingly soft response to an equally-soft Game 1 performance. And that’s fine, you’re allowed to feel like the team should hunker down in a basketball-only bunker where they can obsess about how disappointing Tuesday afternoon was. You can also be frustrated with the messaging coming from the team, which consists of “we need to play harder,” and “we need to find ourselves,” and “we just have to do better.” The thing is...that might be all of what they have to do.
Despite dealing with some discomfort on Tuesday, Wesley Matthews figures to be ready to play his normal role, and only Ersan Ilyasova (elbow) remains on the injury report, listed as day-to-day.
Player to Watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis’ stat line in Game 1 was typical for the Greek Freak (31 points, 17 boards, 7 assists), but he could have played so much better. Missed teammates on passes, committed a handful of ugly turnovers, and some pull-up threes that are, in a word, inexplicable when you consider that the Bucks were trailing on the scoreboard, not leading. Giannis is, and always has been, the main engine of the team (even if Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez each struggled in Game 1), and after taking a tough loss we want to see how he leads the Milwaukee response to the Orlando wall this evening.
Despite having been in this position before (beating the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of last year’s first round playoffs series), the Magic are a bit surprised to find themselves in this position. How did they do it, from their perspective?
The Magic came into this one with a clear defensive plan: control effort plays like defensive rebounding and loose ball recovery, make life difficult for Giannis, and force someone else to beat them with their shooting. For at least one game it worked. It will be interesting to see what head coach Steve Clifford is able to draw up when Milwaukee inevitably responds.
Orlando had a steady contribution from all of their role players on Tuesday, which helped fuel their victory despite seemingly “normal” shooting performances almost across the field. The biggest thing to look for is whether or not the jump shots from inside the arc fall as reliably as they did in Game 1, as well as how many threes the Magic launch in Game 2.
We don’t know if Aaron Gordon will be added to the mix (for better or for worse, honestly), as he’s still questionable with his hamstring strain. We also likely won’t see old friend Michael Carter-Williams, who’s listed as doubtful as he recovers from a foot injury.
Player to Watch: Evan Fournier
The French wing was ineffective for the majority of Game 1, but notched a trio of threes in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter to both salvage his stat line and help keep the Bucks underwater. Perhaps that barrage will boost his confidence for Game 2, and cause him to take possessions that would otherwise go to his teammates (notably Nikola Vucevic, who ate the Bucks alive in Game 1). In any case, if Mike Budenholzer makes changes to shut down Vucevic, Fournier stands to be called upon to step up and see if Orlando can put the Bucks into a truly difficult position.
(Editor’s note: Back, by popular demand...)
Game 2: Against Orlando, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)