What We Learned
Very, very, very small sample size, but, Jeff Teague was serviceable in 13 minutes during his Milwaukee Bucks debut. I am sure playing under coach Mike Budehnolzer in Atlanta makes integrating into a new system easier, but his defensive play stood out to me in the victory.
He made a few strong close-outs on the perimeter and recovered nicely when beaten off the dribble by Damian Lillard to block the midrange jumper. While you might not like the addition of Teague, he is in a great spot to succeed because the Bucks aren’t asking to do very much! Seems like a mutual benefit to me going forward. His night ended with two points, one rebound, two assists, and two blocked shots.
Was this the easiest Giannis Antetokounmpo made it look in his entire career? Portland’s soft interior defense might be the most appetizing matchup for Giannis, and he took full advantage from the opening tip by continuously driving to the rim under control and finishing around Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers threw the kitchen sink at Antetokounmpo has he was defended by Robert Covington, C.J. McCollum, Norman Powell, and Carmelo Anthony at times. Simply put, it didn’t matter who was “in front” of him, he got whatever he wanted offensively. In a night filled with flashy plays and and-one finishes, my favorite possession was when Giannis drove on McCollum and stopped on a dime to hit the short-range shot deep in the shot clock midway through the fourth quarter. Defensively, Giannis showed off his balance and strength by recovering nicely defensively and blocking both McCollum and Lillard multiple times. Antetokounmpo wowed to the tune of 47 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three blocked shots in 33 minutes. It doesn’t stop there, though, as he made 18-of-21 shots from the field and 11-of-13 free throws. WOOOOOOO!
Every bucket from Giannis tonight:— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 3, 2021
47 PTS | 12 REB | 18/21 FG | 3 BLK | 2 STL pic.twitter.com/qyz1qhNeZ0
Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard going back and forth on Friday night was must-watch television. Both of these elite point guards won both offensive and defensive possessions against each other and this matchup was much more balanced than Milwaukee’s first win over the Blazers in Milwaukee earlier this season. Lillard (32/4/5/3) was the only thing keeping Portland in this game and was hitting tough shot after tough shot. He even got Holiday on a beautiful crossover for a three that was initially beautifully defended by Jrue. On the flip side, I enjoyed watching him back down Dame in the paint throughout the fourth quarter. Holiday has ascended in recent weeks and is already proving to be Milwaukee’s second-best player this season (no knock on Khris Middleton). He dropped 22 points and 10 assists on 9-of-14 shooting. It is evident how much these two players respect one another on the basketball court.
The Milwaukee Bucks had zero respect for Carmelo Anthony and left him open repeatedly. I am not sure if that was by design or not, but it worked as Melo was arguably the worst player on the floor in this game. Whenever Portland captured momentum, Anthony continued to chuck up bricks...in fact, many of his misses weren’t even close. He scored six points on 2-of-12 shooting and was also scored on by Giannis multiple times. This was definitely a night to forget for Carmelo Anthony who is enjoying a nice season in Portland.
- Khris Middleton hit a rough patch early but got back into the swing of things by hitting an array of tough jumpers. It seemed like whenever he was open, he would miss, but the tougher he was defended...bottoms. He was also bothered by Norman Powell multiple times and committed unforced errors when defended by him. I am not sure what the Bucks ever did to Powell, but he sure does like playing against them. Anyways, Middleton did have his fair share of positive moments sharing the basketball. 20/7/8/3 (five turnovers) will do!
- Another solid output from Brook Lopez who hit three three-pointers but did lose the battle on the glass a few times.
- Donte DiVincenzo early shot clock deep three-pointers do not make me very happy.
- Bryn Forbes has been up and down in recent games but did hit some key jumpers to help keep momentum on Milwaukee’s side. He too is a big fan of the early shot clock long deuce :(
- Portland made 21 threes and lost...Milwaukee gave up a ton of good looks both inside and outside, but the Blazers couldn’t capitalize.
- Portland’s bench? 6-of-31 shooting...oof.
- It was great to see Bobby Portis back out there on the floor!