The Milwaukee Bucks faced an Oklahoma City team without half its roster, but they gamely tried their best to keep up with the champions. Ultimately, the Bucks had far too much firepower, as they score a new season-high 142 against OKC’s 115 to grab their fifth straight win before facing Atlanta in Fiserv Forum on Wednesday night.
The Bucks opened this one with a certain level of, um, apathy I would say, defensively but they certainly didn’t slag off offensively as they poured in 39 against the Thunder’s 34 after one. Fireworks continued in the second period, punctuated by a buzzer-beating triple from Giannis Antetokounmpo to put Milwaukee up 76-65 at halftime. The Bucks started pounding the Thunder considerably in the third, but a late push by OKC brought them within 105-93 as they refused to go quietly. Sadly for the Thunder, Khris Middleton and company quieted them down almost immediately, as a barrage of points salted this one away quickly.
Giannis was inevitable. We talk a lot about teams not having any viable players to guard Giannis, but this was truly what it looks like when a team doesn’t have any players nor any strategy to try and slow him down. When he was in transition, he barreled through the Thunder like they were papier mache figures. In the halfcourt, he could dominate the glass and his 3-point shot was falling (4-4!). When he got to his places in the mid-post, the Bucks frequently flashed to him for an easy pass and finish or Giannis found a shooter on the weakside for an open shot. This was as ridiculous a mismatch as you’ll get. He ended with 39 points on 19 shots, along with seven boards and assists. Oh ya, just 28 minutes too.
The offensive glass is painted green and cream. For the past few games, the Bucks have gotten back to their domination on the offensive glass. They posted OREB rates of 30% against the Bulls and 39% against the Suns. They followed that same formula for this contest, with a 34.7% rebounding rate that afforded them extra possessions and helped them offset some of the hot shooting from the OKC side. Almost just as importantly, their DREB has been as good as it’s been all season these last few contests too. Limiting opponents to one shot and getting a few of your own? That’s a great recipe.
I’m glad Bud kept his normal starters. Sure, selfishly it’s because I really didn’t wanna cover a game featuring 38 minutes of Jordan Nwor...hey wait a minute! Anyway, I know Bud probably should’ve rested his starters given it was the front end of a back-to-back, but they also are about to have two days off following Wednesday. I also think it’s more than worthwhile to try and keep the solid play of this team flowing as long as possible, and helping work them into Playoff shape should be the primary goal for this final stretch of games. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to let Giannis, Khris and Jrue practice whatever elements of their game they want against competition that, frankly, is G-League adjacent (sans SGA of course).
Bonus Bucks Bits
Jordan Nwora got the start in this one following up his solid performance against the Suns on Sunday. Here was a tidy bounce pass and dunk, but he ended with 11 on 13 shots.
It may have been a foul, but I wanted to write for posterity that Mamu picked up SGA defensively at the arc and stuck with him to pulverize his shot attempt out of bounds.
We got the NBA’s long-name super bowl in this one, with Antetokounmpo, Gilgeous-Alexander, Mamukelashvili and Pokushevski all on the court together.
Marques Johnson gave a great little insight into how assistant Chad Forcier on Bud’s staff constantly works with Jrue on flip-up shots and spins with his attempts at the rim. He got one of those trick lay-ups to hit tonight when he flashed in the dunker to give Giannis an easy pass from the left mid-post area. With the proper english it dropped right in. Thanks Coach Chad!
Great off ball movement from Jrue and find from Giannis pic.twitter.com/BJe3oNATKk— Jake Reetz (@jajareetz) March 9, 2022
In a surprising twist from his cold spell to start the Bucks tenure, Serge Ibaka confidently stroked home two 3-pointers in this one. One from above the arc, and the other was in the corner after he blocked Aaron Wiggins on the other end. He was just 25% for the Bucks coming into this one and went 2-3 in this game.
Giannis has improved his jump shooting ability and frequency this season, and he’s even drawn some fouls on them too. But if you’re looking for one of the worst attempts at grifting I’ve ever seen on a basketball court, watch around 9:10 of the fourth quarter. Kudos to you Giannis for trying!
Jevon carter had 12 points in this one, and seemed as confident as ever with the “let it fly” mantra, pulling up for seven shot attempts. Between him and Bembry, Carter has certainly been the more productive and promising pick-up.