With no Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup, the Milwaukee Bucks never made it pretty, but took care of business with a 108-98 win against the Chicago Bulls, who were also playing without Zach LaVine.
What We Learned
The Bulls-Bucks rivalry is essentially on pause. Obviously it’s alway sweet to take down this cross-state, divisional rival, but whatever fire was placed in this rivalry following that memorable Playoff series back in 2015 has long been extinguished by the overwhelming win streak that the Bucks currently own against them. They’ve now won 12 straight against Chicago, with little end in sight. At this point, almost every game feels like a foregone conclusion and it’s tough to get all that amped up over Chicago games with this level of dominance. This isn’t to say I don’t get satisfaction each and every time, but I wouldn’t mind if the Bulls made things at least a little bit competitive from time to time. Oh well, we’ll always have the Dunleavy-Giannis tackle.
Brook Lopez was dropping buckets - One of the most pleasing offensive evolutions, well, evolutions isn’t really the word, maybe more a return to form, has been Lopez’s increasing use as a roll man and inside. He had it going throughout this one too, bulldozing past the Bulls defenders, particularly using some nifty pick-and-roll chemistry with Jrue Holiday to manufacture buckets. It is obviously much harder for him to be effective inside with Giannis on the floor too, but we saw him do it earlier this week against a smaller Hornets team. This time, with no Giannis, he took on the big boys and still looked offensively robust. He ended with 22 points on 15 shots and was a +30.
Jrue and Khris need a day off - Their shots were funktastic in this one, as everything from bunnies to jump shots seemed to carom off the rim. Middleton was a 8-24 and Holiday was 7-17. Credit to Khris for a big three late though and some clutch free throws by Jrue, but they just didn’t have the shot to go along with the playmaking they were tasked with. They finished with 13 of the Bucks 24 overall assists, and many of their best ones were to the aforementioned Brook Lopez. Let’s hope they’re well rested for the Brooklyn game on Sunday.
The Jeff Teague signing was made for these games - I’ve enjoyed the Jeff Teague Buck experience thus far for the most part, but we also saw in the second period a bit of why he won’t exactly be a godsend come Playoff time with a turnover and generally getting foiled during his attempts to drive. Still, he turned one of those stonewalls into a nutmeg pass on the baseline, so props for that. In the closing stages of the third quarter though, as the rest of the team seemed to be running on fumes, especially the Bucks’ stars, he was able to make some key drives to the basket and draw fouls for easy buckets when Milwaukee needed them. Same thing in the closing minutes of the fourth. They were minor points, and Teague may not even be in the rotation come Playoff time, but those few buckets were beneficial in a regular season game the Bucks needed to pull out.
Bonus Bucks Bits
The novelty of a Khris Middleton dunk doesn’t really get old. This one was particularly authoritative.
As is written in the Bucks bylaws, whenever the Bucks play Daniel Theis, an Antetokounmpo must attempt to posterize him. Thanasis Antetokounmpo tried his best in the second period midway through.
I think we’ve seen some limitations of Khris Middleton as a lead ball handler this season at times, but my word he still does rip some of the prettiest passes on the team, and the fact this came just one possession after Lopez gave him a bounce pass makes it even better.
Bryn Forbes, fresh off his 30-point night, had a few real stinker shots in this one with two airballs in the first half. That included the first play of the game which didn’t even catch rim. That regression hits hard. Also, this was hilarious. He had 13(!) rebounds, clearly stealing some of Donte’s rebounding power in his absence.
"Not just a rebounder!" - @olskool888, after Forbes hits his second 3— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) May 1, 2021
The Bobby Portis revenge game was in full swing for this game, and he was plenty happy putting it on the Bulls throughout. He ended the game with 16 points and 14 rebounds on 7-10 shooting.
Kudos to Brook on this milestone.
Brook blocks Vucevic for his 1,500th career block!! pic.twitter.com/Ps0BgrVwsG— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 1, 2021
Nikola Vucevic had an atrocious night from the floor, going 7-27 including just 1-9 from deep. Essentially, Khris Middleton’s Mavericks game. Maybe some regression from his usual Bucks-killing performances?