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Milwaukee vs. Cleveland: Bucks Grind Out Victory in Cleveland

Milwaukee overcomes a rough start to pull out the win

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the Milwaukee Bucks got off to a slow start but things began to click in the second half of their 123-105 road victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If you told me the Bucks would win by 18 points while making only seven three-pointers, I would have laughed in your face.

What We Learned

Giannis Antetokounmpo...Mr. Patience? Giannis did pick up two early fouls due to over-aggression offensively, but after he hit the bench he returned as a different player.

He was patient and continued to probe Cleveland’s defense to find the open man or finesse his way to a layup. The patience we’ve seen from Giannis offensively this season has been a huge development in helping propel this Bucks team to the next level. Forget about his jumper, but if he’s playing at this high of a level offensively as a facilitator...whoa out!

Three Bucks

Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes continued their strong campaigns and provided Milwaukee a much-needed shot in the arm offensively. With the Bucks struggling to get anything going offensively due to Giannis being on the bench, Bobby came in and established himself as the alpha offensively. While he might be trigger happy at times, he was bullying Jarrett Allen in the paint which is no small feat. He is especially effective with the utilization of his running push shot in the paint. Additionally, he fought on the offensive glass and his active hands helped create multiple second-chance points for the Bucks. He finished the victory with 14 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes (plus-17). As for Bryn, he waited until the second half to get going. He was especially effective in the fourth quarter where he hit a bevy of jumpers. Forbes scored nine points in 17 minutes and while he hit only one three-pointer, he is deadly from the midrange coming off the screen. His ability to stretch the court for the Bucks cannot be understated.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was elite on both ends of the floor against the Cavs. As mentioned before, he did have early foul trouble and was on the pine for much of the first half. However, he simply would not let the Bucks fall behind again. While he did attempt three three-pointers, I LOVED how Giannis continued to bang in the paint and search for easy buckets. He utilized a multitude of moves in the post including a beautiful dream shake to get rid of Collin Sexton for a score. Four assists won’t jump off the screen but the way he was patiently navigating Cleveland’s defense was remarkable. He continuously found the open man which created more open shots because he commands so much attention defensively. Don’t let the opponent fool you as the Cavs have a great defense. Giannis played 33 minutes and dropped 33 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and four blocked shots. His anticipation defensively was great as he disrupted multiple Cavaliers’ attempts at the rim and met Jarrett Allen at the rim, too.

It was a quiet night for Khris Middleton, but his play was highlighted by his playmaking in the fourth quarter. He found an open Antetokounmpo with a flashy pinpoint pass which led him to an easy two and he saved a loose ball from going out of bounds by firing an absolute missile to a cutting Donte DiVincenzo who was at the right place at the right time. Credit to the Cavaliers as they denied Middleton throughout much of the game and he wasn’t able to catch passes frequently at the top of the arc as he usually does when he draws a mismatch. In all, he chipped in 15 points, four rebounds, and five assists.

Bonus Bits

  • D.J Augustin continues to struggle on both ends of the court...his arrow continues to trend downwards, although I do have a fair amount of confidence that he finds his rhythm.
  • Brook Lopez was solid again, scoring 13 points while providing the defensive presence in the paint against a paint-hungry Cavs team.
  • Jrue Holiday scored 17 points (8-of-9 shooting) and seven assists against a tough matchup in Collin Sexton. Holiday did pick up a few fouls in the pick-and-roll game when switching on a big. It was a serviceable performance that started by him dropping a dime to Middleton on the first offensive possession for Milwaukee.
  • Donte DiVincenzo did a little bit of everything last night, contributing 11 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. He has been a plus-minus darling throughout the last two games (plus-22 tonight). He added a crazy deep three-pointer which I am not so sure that he even meant to shoot.
  • Torrey Craig...still finding his footing.

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