Before we get into the game, it’s important to note that an important member of the Bucks was finally in attendance tonight. We miss you, Jrue Holiday, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!
Both teams kept up with one another over the course of the first quarter, though the Bucks’ interior defense forced more missed shots than it feels like they have lately. To be fair, neither team shot particularly well, so it was a “rebound-rich” environment. Giannis Antetokounmpo was in attack mode early, and used his pressure on the rim to start building a steady Milwaukee lead. That lead ballooned to 70-56 by the end of the second, thanks in part to Giannis’ newfound accuracy from the line (13/15 in the first half, 19/24 for the game), Khris Middleton regaining his groove (14 points in at halftime, 32 on the night), and Brook Lopez’s mastery of the zone drop defense (more on this later). The second half was virtually a carbon copy of the first. Milwaukee maintained a healthy lead, the Kings would eat into it a bit, the Bucks would rebuild it, and so on until Kings head coach Luke Walton finally threw in the towel.
Stat That Stood Out
The Kings are a collection of talented players centered around...well, I’m not sure, but one thing they lack is a frontcourt player who demands defensive attention. Since Sacramento does not present that sort of challenge, there isn’t much incentive to switch or aggressively hedge on screens. As a result, the Bucks got back to basics and employed the zone drop, though they were more judicious with helping off of shooters, and the high-scoring Kings only managed to shoot 43.4% on twos during the first three quarters (47.1% overall), which were the only ones that were somewhat competitive. Even if the points scored in the paint was relatively even between the two teams, Sacramento just had to work that much harder to get shots to land, and without a scorching performance from three to buoy their scoring, they were playing catchup to the Bucks all night long.