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Milwaukee vs. Orlando: Bucks Fend Off Pesky Magic

3 in a row!

NBA: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks earned their third-consecutive victory by taking care of the Orlando Magic at home, 117-108. This was the first leg of a home back-to-back with the Magic.

What We Learned

Well, I might not be the biggest basketball savant, but the Bucks are better with a healthier roster! What a mind-blowing concept. This is why Brew Hoop pays me the big bucks. With Donte DiVincenzo and Brook Lopez still making their way back onto the court, Milwaukee is a different, more lethal team when both Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are on the floor.

Now, that doesn’t mean both are playing at high-levels at the moment, but just having their presence on the floor opens up so many avenues offensively for MKE and makes their defense MUCH stronger. On only his third game back from the COVID-19 list, it was great to see Middleton play 30 minutes...it looks like he’s slowly getting back up to speed.

Three Observations

Giannis Antetokounmpo can not only carry the Bucks to a championship, but he can do the same for your fantasy basketball team! It is hard to find a player like GA who even on an off night, still stuffs EVERY category of the stat sheet, He truly is one-of-one. Against the Magic, he dropped 32/20/5/2/3 in just 30 (!!!!!) minutes of play. Granted, he exited with a monster line in only 25 minutes but needed to be reinserted when Milwaukee’s garbage time unit inevitably let Orlando cut a huge lead to single-digits. Forget the powerful dunks and insane chase-down blocks, what I have been floored with Antetokounmpo this season has been his court vision. We are finally seeing him play like a true point guard this season...he’s staying patient, making the right reads, and can even throw a no-look pass because he knows which spot his teammate will end up in. Just phenomenal stuff.

Bobby Portis is elite. The Bucks are fortunate to have him back on the roster as he turned down presumably a lot more money to stay with the team he helped win a championship. He has proven this year that his production from last season is no fluke. While he did struggle his first few games of the season coming back from injury, he has quickly put the slow start behind him. He made 6-of-7 shots from deep to tally 24 points and 15 rebounds in 34 minutes of play. Don’t look now, but he’s up to 41.5% shooting from deep thus far. Additionally, with Brook Lopez out, the Bucks have had their fair share of problems corralling rebounds, so it was nice to see Portis help the Bucks out-rebound Orlando by a 60-39 margin.

Pat Connaughton just makes winning plays on the basketball floor. While his minus-2 in 24 minutes of play is a little misleading, it always seems like Pat makes a string of nice plays on both ends of the floor in a row. He’ll contest a shot and the run down the floor and spot up for a three-pointer. What has really surprised me about him this season is his improved finishing around the rim. He seems to be much more confident when slashing to the rim. Maybe GA has been teaching him lessons. He contributed 11 points on Saturday night and is now averaging 11.4 points on 38.2% shooting from deep. He has been one of the biggest surprises for MKE this year.

Bonus Bits

  • Well, Khris Middleton is back. He scored 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep while also adding five rebounds and eight assists. His ball distributing skills were on full display as he made an array of pinpoint passes for assists. He also added a few hockey assists, too. Just an all-around solid game from Khris.
  • George Hill is much more effective coming off the bench...he is also a plus-minus superstar! He scored only five points in 23 minutes, but still managed to finish plus-19 in the win. His veteran savviness on the floor is a treat to watch, he has done a good job at mastering inverted screens when on the floor with Giannis.
  • Grayson Allen deserves a lot more love for Most Improved Player. He scored 16 points in 29 minutes and it’s fair to wonder where this Bucks team would be without his contributions on BOTH ends of the court.
  • Jrue Holiday is riding the struggle bus offensively this season and his field goal percentage now sits at 37.8% while averaging three turnovers per game. I have no quarrels with him defensively, but seeing him struggle to finish around the rim gives me flashbacks to the Brooklyn Nets series from last postseason. There’s still plenty of time to right the ship, though.