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Milwaukee vs. Oklahoma City: Bucks Halt Losing Streak at 5

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NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks were finally able to get back into the win column by defeating the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, 98-95. This game was ugly and certainly will not be hanging up in the Louvre.

Nonetheless, a win is a win!

What We Learned

Donte DiVincenzo was fantastic throughout the night against a tough matchup in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (14 points on 3-of-12).

Shai has been a revelation this season and has been feasting on opposing guards all season, however, nothing came easy on Friday night. Donte pressured him on the ball and forced him to create as a playmaker, and not a scorer. Shai did hit some tough step-back threes over him, but you couldn’t complain about the shot contest. Even though DiVincenzo scored only five points on 2-of-8 shooting, he was creating for others and constantly moving. He even split a double-team in the second half and drew a foul. I’m not sure he meant to do it, but it was beautiful. The insertion of D.J. Augustin into the starting lineup definitely took the pressure off him, too.

Three Observation

Giannis Antetokounmpo was a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor. He started off a bit slow by falling asleep on a few defensive possessions which led to open threes for OKC, however, he got MUCH better as the game went on. I thought he was especially effective as an on-ball defender and his most impressive plays came against Darius Bazley. Giannis clamped him on the perimeter and swatted his midrange attempt (the shot attempt didn’t even leave Bazley’s hand) in the first half, and then he had a monster block on him which was capped off by a strong Bryn Forbes drive to the bucket on the other end in the second half. Elite anticipation. Antetokounmpo was also seen coaching up Bazley early in the game. A sign of respect? Offensively, Giannis successfully navigated through the teeth of OKC’s defense en route to 29 points on 10-of-20 shooting. He did take an unnecessary amount of threes which “tanked” his field goal percentage, but the biggest takeaway here was the 8-of-10 shooting from the line. He has been much improved since the 1-of-10 performance against the Mavs.

In his first start of the season, D.J. Augustin provided the Bucks a big boost. He did get off to a slow start by missing some jumpers and bobbling an easy pass out of bounds, but he was strong in the second half. While Bryn Forbes while solid in his stint in the starting lineup, Milwaukee’s offense was much more fluid with Augustin running with the starters. As stated earlier, he took a lot of pressure off DiVincenzo’s hands which freed up Donte off the ball so he didn’t have to worry about being a primary distributor. D.J. also added a strong drive to the bucket in the fourth quarter where he had a nifty in and out dribble while finishing a circus-style layup attempt. With how he has played this year, you can only go up from here. He added 11 points and five assists in 32 minutes while finishing plus-13.

Bobby Portis, Bryn Forbes, and Thansis Antetokounmpo provided Milwaukee with a big spark of energy off the bench. Portis did the majority of his damage early in the second quarter by bullying his way down low and hitting mid-range jumpers. He scored seven points and hauled in eight boards in 16 minutes. Forbes and Thansis did their damage in the third quarter...Bryn (10 points) was hitting jumpers from all over the court and helped the Bucks extended their double-digit lead and while Antetokounmpo scored only one basket, the energy he brings to the floor is CONTAGIOUS. He makes crashing the offensive look so simple. Like Marques Johnson said on the broadcast, “he’s going to do something!” when he’s on the floor.

Bonus Bits

  • Khris Middleton played inconsistently, but had some nice sequences in both halves offensively where he was able to convert on a bevy of jumpers. He ended the night with 20 points, eight rebounds, and four assists (plus-10) in 36 minutes. He made only 1-of-5 attempts from deep, but he did look better last night than he did in prior games.
  • Brook Lopez was fantastic defensively. When he got switched onto a guard he would not retreat deep like he did earlier in the season and was able to snuff out some of OKC’s offensive sets by doing so. A nifty little change that could make a big difference.
  • Is it me, or are the rims tighter this season at Fiserv Forum than in prior seasons?
  • The Bucks held the Thunder to 36.5% from the field...on the flip side, they shot only 40.7%

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