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Milwaukee vs. Washington: Bucks Cast Spell on Wizards, 133-122

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9 wins in the last 10 games!

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks cruised to a relatively easy victory against the Washington Wizards on Monday night, 133-122.

The Bucks did build a 26-point advantage at one point, but the Wizards managed to claw their way back into the game and cut the lead to single digits. Even though they got it down to five, it never felt like the Bucks lost control or that the victory was in doubt.

What We Learned

Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing out of this world, is this the best basketball he has played in his entire career? Antetokounmpo, again, played very patiently offensively and took whatever Washington gave him. He opted to get his teammates involved early and often and was causing multiple problems for Washington’s “defense.”

I mean, what is Washington supposed to do? They sagged off him to pack the paint and he continued to make beautiful pocket passes to open shooters and Giannis was successfully able to get to the paint with ease and didn’t really have to use an array of moves to get to his sweet spot. It seems like Antetokounmpo is finally thriving in Milwaukee’s new offense with the addition of Jrue Holiday and his early-season struggles look like a thing of the past.

He finished the victory with 31 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals in 36 minutes. His third-triple double in the last three games. Hold on, we’re not done yet! He made 12-of-19 shots from the floor and all six of his free throw attempts. There are no superlatives to accurately describe the way he’s playing, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Three Observations

Brook Lopez clearly read our tweets about calling him “washed” and a “liability.” Perhaps all he needed was the All-Star break to get him right, but whatever he did over the break clearly worked. Lopez was fantastic defending the paint and was under constant duress with Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal driving to the rim with a full head of steam on seemingly every possession. Not to say Brook is moving faster defensively, but he certainly looks crisper on that end of the floor. Offensively, he came out and attacked Alex Len from the opening tip and scored a quick eight points while drawing multiple fouls. In all, he contributed 22 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and four blocked shots in 33 minutes while making 8-of-12 shots from the floor. To be fair, I am someone who has heavily criticized him all season and for him to be playing at this level raises Milwaukee’s ceiling exponentially.

Jrue Holiday...baseline maestro! He is so patient with the ball in his hands and he really goes to work whenever he is navigating his way on the baseline. Jrue was making pinpoint passes throughout the game and his prettiest dish was served up to Bobby Portis in the corner after Holiday secured his own miss of a layup. Holiday came down with the ball, did a beautiful ball fake on Robin Lopez, and then fired it to Portis in the corner from deep. While I would like for Jrue to be a little more aggressive offensively at times, it is hard not to love how patient he plays the game. Rubbing off on Giannis, perhaps? Anyways, he defended both Westbrook and Beal multiple times and held his ground admirably. Just another 15/6/4 performance from the point guard from UCLA who also finished plus-12.

Bobby Portis is a menace. He made an impact right when he checked into the game, but got it going in the second quarter when Milwaukee started to stretch their double-digit lead. The Wizards had no answer for him and he was scoring in a variety of ways. His presence on the boards has been a welcome sight for the Bucks and every team needs someone who will fight for the rock like Portis. His production did disappear in the second half when the Wizards began to make their comeback, but he still dropped 13 points in 16 minutes. He has enjoyed seasons where he averaged 14 points per game, but you can make the argument that he is now playing the best basketball he has played...so efficient and you know what you are going to get whenever he steps on the floor.

Bonus Bits

  • Khris Middleton bounced-back after a rough shooting performance on Saturday night and scored 23 points on Monday. Khris was quiet early but saved his best for the second and third quarters. He started the game 1-for-5 but continued to go to work in the middle of the floor and from deep. My favorite shot from his performance came in the second quarter when he hit a beautiful leaning shot over Russell Westbrook on the baseline. He and Bradley Beal were also trading buckets which was fun to watch. Middleton creates space with such ease...he’ll lull you to sleep with jab steps before rising and firing right over you.
  • Donte DiVincenzo did a little bit of everything...he added 12 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in 33 minutes. Donte got off to a hot start offensively early by hitting a couple of deep three-pointers and included a pretty seal late in the fourth quarter which freed up Giannis for an easy deuce.
  • Scott Brooks’ rotations are laughable. Rui Hachimura started and played well in the first few minutes, but had him ride the bench for a loooong time before reinserting him in the second period. Raul Neto played 20 minutes which seems like an excessive amount.

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