Milwaukee entered this game very much in a state of flux, having gone 3-6 in their last nine games (losing three, then winning three, then losing another three in a row) and with superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo missing his fifth straight with his mysterious knee injury. Still, today started with 3.5 games between the Bucks and the top of the conference (a virtual tie between Philadelphia and Brooklyn) and 4.5 games distancing Milwaukee from the East’s 4-seed (currently Charlotte, but occasionally Atlanta or Miami). Milwaukee feels stuck in a standings-bubble all of their own, making individual game results feel a little less important, win or lose. Maybe the 3-seed isn’t such a bad thing? But despite the troubles in Milwaukee, the Magic have finally embraced the tank and seemingly exist to provide opponents a W for the rest of this season.
The Bucks jumped out to an early lead, thanks to frequent misses from multiple Magic non-shooters against the vaunted zone-drop defense. Orlando never managed to figure out their offense, a statement that likely applies to more than just this game, since they have recently offloaded Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon. The Bucks’ consistent efforts on both ends in the second quarter opened up a sizable double-digit lead, with the halftime score set at 57-38. The second half was the same as the first, only more extreme. Bobby Portis hit a corner three to make the score 102-72 with about 7 minutes remaining in the game, and that lead honestly felt bigger than it was.
Stat That Stood Out
Milwaukee’s ho-hum victory was (once again) fueled by some hot three-point shooting. The Bucks ended the night at 47.5% (19-for-40) and were shooting between 45-50% for the majority of the game, and remained on the high end of that range during the game’s competitive portions. More shocking, though, was the differential between Milwaukee and Orlando; the Bucks hit 19 three-pointers made, compared to only 8 for the Magic. That’s more than double! This is less a credit to the Bucks’ high-octane offense and more an indictment of the depleted Magic, who simply doesn’t have any significant talent to offer even token resistance on either side of the ball.