In their first meeting of the year, the Milwaukee Bucks knocked off the Dallas Mavericks Friday evening at Fiserv Forum, 112-109.
Dallas would be without seven players due to health concerns, which the Bucks didn’t waste any time taking advantage of. Giannis Antetokounmpo immediately made his presence felt, totaling a quick 10 points in the opening period of play. That’d help grant the Bucks a 30-23 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Bucks would continue their hot and consistent field goal shooting, with Giannis leading the rampage. They’d get their lead up to double-digits, but the firepower of Dallas was enough to keep things competitive. A wide-open Khris Middleton 3-pointer would pad Milwaukee’s lead to 55-47 heading into the locker room. Milwaukee’s All-Stars paced the squad in the first half, with Middleton putting in 15 and Antetokounmpo leading the way with 16 points.
The third quarter was a bit of a frustrating one. It seemed as if the Bucks kept missing easy gimme shots, but despite that, they clung onto the lead for the entire quarter. Granted, they never carved a large lead. Dallas would remain right at Milwaukee’s heels and keep things super close headed into the final period of regulation.
The sloppiness continued into the fourth for Milwaukee, with them being unable to finally really put the nail in the coffin. Missed free throws would continue to let the Mavericks stay close in this one, with Giannis being the main culprit. After Dallas took a single point advantage with just over three minutes left, Khris Middleton would go on a tear, connecting on a pair of threes. Kristaps Porzingis would launch a three that would’ve given the Mavs the lead in the waning seconds, but came nowhere near a make, resulting in Khris Middleton icing the game at the line. Milwaukee would then earn a tough-earned victory, 112-109.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers in this one, totaling 31 points. Khris Middleton was the Robin to his Batman, finishing his night with 25 points and those clutch points down the stretch.
Luka Doncic was the main guy for Dallas, concluding his outing on the floor with 29 points, 13 rebounds and an assist away from a triple-double. Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in with 22 points of his own.
What Did We Learn?
Unfortunately, we learned that Giannis still is struggling at the free throw lines. Multiple times throughout the fourth, he’d have an opportunity to pad Milwaukee’s lead, but was unable to convert. He’d end up going just 1-of-10 from the charity stripe on the evening. Now, his poor free throw shooting likely won’t come back to bite the Bucks during the regular season, but if it continues into the postseason, the Bucks could see some major trouble. At this point, his free throw routine really is broken and it’s in dire need of being corrected. However, it looks like he’s aware of that and is vowed to make it change:
Grind never stops.— Zora Stephenson (@ZoraStephenson) January 16, 2021
Giannis getting free throws up...on the other end Jordan Nwora and Sam Merrill knocking down threes. pic.twitter.com/F2v242zJ7o
This was a sloppy game.
I mentioned Giannis’ free throw shooting, and that was definitely a symptom of the sloppiness that stemmed from Milwaukee. Aditionally, turnovers were a frequent throughout the game, and they seemed to come at the most inopportune times. Antetokounmpo would have five of Milwaukee’s ten turnovers. However, I suppose, in the end, a win is a win. Regardless, you still never like to see a game as rusty as this, but you’ll take the victory when it’s all said and done.
Khris Middleton continues to carry the Bucks.
The man continues to produce for the Bucks. Right after Milwaukee coughed up the lead late in the fourth, K-Midd stepped up and made sure the Bucks left for home victorious. He embarked on a rampage of eight straight points, proving to be too much for the Mavericks to handle. One of his threes magically ripped the net, which caused me to tweet this:
i've said it before and i'll say it again...khris middleton has the purest swish in the league— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 16, 2021
Middleton would end up finishing 4-of-9 from downtown and boast an overall 8-of-20 from the floor. Calculate that up and it’s 25 points. Just absolutely massive.
Brook Lopez showed off his moves down low.
It really surprises me that the Bucks don’t draw up more plays to utilize Brook down low. He got a free looks in that area of the paint tonight, and they typically resulted in good things for Milwaukee. Overall, Lopez wouldn’t have too bad of a performance. He totaled a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, including a pair of threes. Run that through and that’s a +10 RPM. Like I said, he had a few solid post transitions. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any noticeable plays set up for him in the next Bucks game.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Early on in the game, there was a few transitions in a row where Giannis absolutely took it to the Dallas defense. One of those plays was a massive slam on Willie Cauley-Stein. In fact, I think the rim is still shaking from that throwdown.
- Tonight was the Bucks’ first night wearing the Jordan jerseys. Talk about fresh. They still don’t have a jersey sponsor to replace Harley-Davidson, but let’s hope that can ride out as long as possible. I still hate the idea of having sponsors on the front of NBA jerseys.
- Speaking of jerseys, I don’t think I’m a fan of the white and gold for the Mavericks. I don’t know...I just don’t think of those colors when I think of the Dallas Mavericks. I understand they’re an alternate, but it just doesn’t jive well for me.
- Yes. Please be like Bobby.
Be like Bobby. Wear your mask. pic.twitter.com/mZZXTVfmZB— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 16, 2021
- Last, after Luka Doncic didn’t get his fingers on the basketball during Dallas’ final possession, he expressed his dismay to his teammates. That led rapper Vince Staples to tweet this, which made me erupt with laughter:
Luka act like Eric Cartman— Vince Staples (@vincestaples) January 16, 2021