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Milwaukee vs. Denver: Bucks Fry Nuggets, 120-109

The Bucks are...back?!

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless if the Denver Nuggets were missing Nikola Jokic amongst other key contributors, for the Milwaukee Bucks to pick up a road win in Denver is always big. Don’t look now, but with the 120-109 victory, the Bucks are winners of six-straight games.

What We Learned

It looks like Jrue Holiday is back, folks. It’s been a struggle offensively speaking for him this season, but he had an important third period where he contributed eight points which helped the Bucks keep their lead in double-figures. Milwaukee is now undefeated when he, Giannis, and Khris play and the average margin of victory is not particularly close which is why you should NOT be panicking about the early record.

In all, he finished with 16/5/6 in 33 minutes of action (plus-28). While this might not go down as the most dominant Jrue performance, it is important to note that he has started to look like the pre-injury Holiday over the last three contests. I am no betting man, but I bet he keeps the positive momentum going as Milwaukee’s schedule looks pretty favorable for the next two weeks.

Three Observations

Pat Connaughton deserves A LOT more love for Sixth Man Of the Year. It seems like his struggles from last season are a thing of the past and he has been one of Milwaukee’s most consistent options both offensively and defensively this season. Sure, he’ll still gamble on a blocked shot on the perimeter, but he causes so much disruption by flying around the court. In 27 minutes off the bench, he compiled 20 points while making 7-of-8 threes and finishing plus-22. Whenever the Bucks come out of a timeout on offense, it seems like coach Bud always calls a play to get him a look at a triple and he converts. It’s getting to the point where whenever he shoots, I assume it is going in. He’s shooting 41% from deep on 6.4 attempts which should be illegal.

Giannis Antetokounmpo got whatever he wanted last night. The free-throw shooting (3-of-9) was not pretty by any means, but he excelled in every other facet of the game against the Nuggets. It honestly looks like he’s not even trying out there and the game comes so easy to him. He made 10-of-13 field goals to tally 24 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists while committing just one turnover. He attempted just three shots away from the paint and made the only three-point attempt. He made a super smooth turnaround jumper midway through the fourth over the out-stretched arm of Aaron Gordon, who honestly couldn’t have contested that shot any better. Antetkounmpo looks more comfortable taking that shot this season and it looks like he has more lift on it than last year. When he made that shot, Gordon just looked over to the Denver bench and shrugged. Same, Aaron.

The Milwaukee Bucks did an admirable job answering every Denver scoring run. Just when it seemed like they would pull-away for good, the Nuggets kept creeping back just a bit by ratting off four or five straight points. However, in the second half, I thought Milwaukee did a better job at clamping down defensively and manufacturing shots offensively to counteract the mini Denver spurts. While the home team connected on 17 three-pointers, they shot just 43.3% from the floor. The Bucks out-rebounding them 44-30 played an integral part in them pulling away in the third period.

Bonus Bits

  • Khris Middleton was alright, all things considered. While he did contribute 17/5/7 on 5-of-11 shooting (four made threes), he did commit six turnovers. At least once per game, there is a possession where he turns the ball over and you say to yourself, “what the heck is he doing out there???” His shooting stats look rough this season, but I am going to give him some time to fully recover from COVID-19 and get up to playing speed before coming close to hitting the panic button on those percentages.
  • Grayson Allen added 10 points and was a reason why the Bucks were able to race out to an early lead. You can tell opposing defenses are starting to scheme against him, but they have so many shooters on the floor at one time that it doesn’t even matter.
  • Bobby Portis finished with 11/8/3 in 28 minutes and continues to prove that his contract might be the biggest bargain in the league. He has made some decent strides on the defensive end, too for good measure.
  • George Hill and Rodney Hood combined to score 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
  • The Bucks shot 63% (!!!!!!!) from the floor and 48.5 from deep.