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Milwaukee vs. Orlando: Bucks Blow Past Magic, 121-107

That’s two thus far, Shooter!

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

That’s two thus far, Shooter. The Milwaukee Bucks would earn their second win of the series, going up 2-1 over the Orlando Magic in a 121-107 victory.

Milwaukee would start this one out with their best play to date in this series. Crisp, communicative offense was sparked by stifling defense on the other end of the court. After an initial burst from Nikola Vucevic, Milwaukee quickly mitigated his impact and stepped things up with their performance and began to blow past Orlando. Fast starts from Khris Middleton and Donte DiVincenzo, who have both been struggling, also made things difficult for Orlando. At the end of one, the Bucks boasted a 31-23 lead.

That level of domination would continue from Milwaukee throughout the second quarter. Giannis Antetokounmpo would begin to score at will, putting forth a perfect start to things. The defense continued to absolutely lock down Orlando on every possession, and they could do nothing to control the Bucks on the other end of the court. Milwaukee closed out the half on a 25-9 run, which handed them a 70-43 halftime advantage.

The Bucks’ domination would continue throughout the third period, with the bench earning the majority of the minutes to start things off. Orlando would continue to not have much of an answer to anything, and heading into the final quarter of play, the Bucks maintained a 99-77 lead.

Things would get closer in the fourth, as the Magic unleashed a run that saw them slice the Milwaukee lead to just 12 points. This was the first real adversity the Bucks had faced all game, and even then, it wasn’t too extreme. They simply answered by slamming the door shut on the Magic and stomping to a 2-1 series advantage. In the blink of an eye, Milwaukee climbed back up to a 20+ point advantage and danced across the finish line with a 121-107 win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks, completing his afternoon with 35 points on a very effective 12-of-14 shooting. It was also a bounce-back performance for Khris Middleton, who scored 17 points following his dismal 2-point performance in Game 2.

D.J. Augustine led the Magic with a 24 point performance off the bench. Nikola Vucevic failed to score 30 points for the first time in the series, concluding his outing with 20 points.

Three Observations

It was nice to have Khris Middleton back.

After a horrendous Game 2 performance that saw him score just two points, it was awesome having Khris Middleton. His solid play alongside Giannis helped put Milwaukee in the driver’s seat early on and not look back. This is the type of performance that the Bucks need in order to cap off their championship run. We’ve all seen how drastic the performance can be when K-Midd doesn’t show up. His +30 RPM was the highest on the Bucks, and it’s easy to understand why. When he gels, his teammates do as well and it makes things that much tougher for their opponent.

Donte DiVincenzo also had a major impact on things.

This game exemplified a classic Donte DiVincenzo performance. Whenever you think of Donte, you think of the grittiness and hustle that he brings out onto the court. That was on performance earlier today. Despite scoring just six points, he was making all the right cuts (he even got Stan Van Gundy to go on a tangent praising him and how you don’t see many cutters in the the way, shoutout SVG...he’s been fantastic in his color commentary role and has been a great follow on Twitter) and really added an element to Milwaukee’s offense. He also continued his role of being a pest on the defensive side of the basketball, getting his fingertips on it and even stifling a block at the rim. It’s that kind of play from DiVincenzo that makes him such a crucial X-Factor for this squad. He can really help turn up the dial and provide a spark off the bench when the Bucks need it.

It’s fantastic to see the Bucks maintain dominance throughout the game.

Even when they were up by as many as 20+ points, the Bucks continued to exhibit passion and emotion out (and off) the court. This type of energy is always fabulous to see in the playoffs, as it can really set the difference between a borderline contender and a champion. When Orlando did come back and make things somewhat interesting, the Bucks shrugged, chuckled, then embarked on a run that sent Orlando home. This mentality is going to be huge in the next round vs. whomever the Bucks play, and will really help put them on a path to a championship.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo had a very Giannis Antetokounmpo-style of a performance in this one. He threw down a series of dunks, all of which featured passion and jubilation, including this one to cap things off:

If that doesn’t get you fired up, I don’t know what will. Wow.

  • One of the main reasons that the Bucks were able to build such a massive lead early lead was thanks in large part to the lack of turnovers. That was really encouraging to see, given the fact that they’ve struggled in that department a majority of their time down in the bubble. Let’s hope to see a continuation.
  • You know that passion I was talking about above? Brook Lopez really showed that off the court:

He’d continue his rivalry vs. chairs on the sideline:

  • I still can’t get over how well the defense was today. All afternoon, they made things extremely difficult for the Magic and took advantage on the other end of all the mistakes they created. This is the second consecutive game where the Bucks have exhibited a strong performance on the defensive side of the ball, so it’s great to see the trend continue.
  • Last, how about Marvin Williams showing the energy and passion in his scuffle with James Ennis??? I still don’t think it was enough to warrant an ejection, but Ennis should know not to mess with Old Man Marvin.