Phew. Now that’s more like it. After a sleepwalking performance in Game 1, the Milwaukee Bucks knotted things up vs. the Orlando Magic and tied this series at a game apiece with a 111-96 victory.
Right away, the Bucks’ switching was evident. Also evident was a revamped dose of energy, as every player seemed much more engaged to begin this one than Game 1 — and man was it noticeable. Faster, crisper play and a lockdown defense propelled the Bucks to a much better place than their initial go around, and heading into the second quarter, Milwaukee had built up a 25-13 advantage.
That air-tight defense would continue throughout the second quarter, with the Magic struggling to connect on any field goal from the floor. When I say air-tight, I mean air-tight. It was a night and day difference, and the Bucks took all the momentum onto their side through establishment of a 64-43 lead after an Antetokounmpo slam with 0.2 seconds closed things out.
Orlando would make things a little interesting in the third quarter, as they scratched and clawed their way back to make it just a 12 point deficit. However, it wouldn’t be like that for long. Milwaukee quickly re-asserted dominance and went on a run, re-setting the tone and sending things into the fourth quarter with a 20 point lead, 93-73.
How about this slam from Giannis in the fourth:
The Magic sliced things to single digits late in the fourth, but a pair of Brook Lopez threes would prove to be enough to ice this one. The Bucks would even things up with a 111-96 win.
Stat That Stood Out
Let’s go with Pat Connaughton here. After a lackluster performance from players not named Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 1, Planet Pat was all over things in this one with his 15 points. Right from the opening tip, it was clear that the Bucks’ focus and intensity had been re-calibrated, and Connaughton had a major role in it. He provided a massive spark off the bench, fueling the team by starting things off 3-for-3 from beyond the perimeter. A team effort is always needed in the playoffs, and Pat brought that energy from the bench tonight by tying his career high in 3-pointers with five.