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Milwaukee vs. Cleveland: Antetokounmpo-less Bucks Etch Way Past Cavs, 100-90

Despite their MVP, Milwaukee earns the victory

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks

Despite their MVP, the Milwaukee Bucks would have no real trouble containing the Cleveland Cavaliers, as they took business against them by a score of 100-90 on Saturday evening at Fiserv Forum.

This game was immediately not as fun as soon as the news broke that Giannis Antetokounmpo (back spasms) would sit out. Bobby Portis would take his place in the Milwaukee starting five. Despite the MVP being sidelined, the Bucks wouldn’t have much trouble getting the engine started in this one. His replacement, Portis, contributed soundly with 12 points to pace the home team in the first, and helped pad Milwaukee a 27-14 lead after one.

After the Bucks earned a 35-16 advantage on a DJ Wilson basket with 9:51 left in the second, Cleveland would embark on a 14-0 run to tighten the Bucks’ lead to just five. The Bucks would then answer with a run of their own, to stamp out the half up by double digits, 47-37.

Despite the starters being in the game to begin the third, Milwaukee didn’t have much of an opportunity to extrapolate on their lead. Halfway through the quarter, Cleveland would keep the same deficit they saw at halftime. An 11-3 scoring run would slice the lead to single digits. Despite that, the Bucks kept fighting on the glass and used the nitty gritty to keep things rolling into the fourth.

Cleveland would remain a pest for the Bucks. Right out of the gates, things were sliced and diced to a single digit advantage for Milwaukee. Despite the relatively slow possessions that the Bucks seemed to continuously have, they’d maintain the double digit advantage that they held the majority of the game and walk away with a 100-90 victory.

Khris Middleton paced the Antetokounmpo-less Bucks with 27 points, five rebounds, and six assists.

What Did We Learn?

We learned that the Bucks could win without Giannis Antetokounmpo. Sure, it wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but the Bucks got the job done thanks to key assistance. Bobby Portis filled in Giannis’ absence admirably with 17 points on a nifty 7-of-11 shooting. This was the kind of performance that the Bucks were hoping for from Portis when they signed him, and it’s encouraging that he stepped up to the plate when the opportunity was given. Milwaukee will hope to see that level of contribution from Portis moving forward.

Three Observations

Bobby Portis filled in Giannis’ role quote respectfully.

It’s obviously tough to fill the shoes of a two-time reigning Most Valuable Player, but Bobby Portis helped fill the gap nicely. His stat line would total a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. This sort of performance was quite encouraging, as it showed that the Bucks were still able to earn a victory despite the lineup deficiency. After a slow start to the reason, Bucks fans will hope to continue the momentum that Portis gained in this one.

Milwaukee’s pace was much slower without Giannis.

Without the prominence of Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup, Milwaukee’s pace of efficiency took a hit. Regardless, they still saw success in other areas, the main one being the paint. As Mitchell noted in the Rapid Recap, a majority of Khris Middleton’s shots developed from shots off the drive in the paint. He’d end up being a perfect 6-of-6 from this category. So far, Middleton has been an incredible asset to the Bucks. and he’ll look to maintain that momentum vs. the Magic.

Is it time to start worrying about Brook Lopez?

It was another game where Brook Lopez seemed to be lacking his signature contributions that we’ve become so used to seeing him aid the Bucks with. He’d finish the evening with seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. The first year, we saw his 3-point shooting be a major impact that helped the Bucks go a long ways into the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, we have yet to see that much of a contribution from the big fella, but alas, it still is somewhat early within the campaign and there is plenty of time to turn the ship around. The Bucks will hope that he does just that in the coming weeks.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • If you combined DJ Wilson’s willingness to avoid contact with Giannis’s willingness to embrace all contact, you’d have an unstoppable player. This was a quote that was delivered in the Brew Hoop Group DM’s by our own Riley Feldmann and I felt that it had to be repeated in this recap. He really did hit the nail on the head. It’s somewhat incredible as to how much DJ will go out of his way to avoid contact. Let’s hope that that part of his game develops sometime this season and he becomes more willing to absorb contact.
  • Bobby Portis is really becoming a folk hero on this team. After Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out, he filled in quite nicely, as I mentioned in the recap above. Those sorts of performances will help the fans remember your name, and that’s exactly what happens to be occurring.
  • I mentioned DJ’s unwillingness to absorb contact. Despite that, he still was the key contributor off the bench for the Bucks, as he tallied 12 points off the pine for Milwaukee. Those sorts of numbers will be well appreciated, especially in a contest where Giannis isn’t available.
  • Donte continued his shooting efforts, knocking down several 3-pointers on the evening. It’s being said across Bucks fans now — if he can develop that into a consistent manner for the Bucks, watch out. That would be quite nice.
  • Last, what are the takes on the Cavs’ uniforms? Personally, I think it’s a boring color scheme, but I think they make it work. I’d love to see them bring back the bright orange more for their throwbacks, but I’m sure that that will be brought back in the coming years as an anniversary jersey.