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Bucks vs. Nets: Clinical Bucks Cut the Nets

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Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks were looking to rebound after a disappointing Christmas day loss. The Bucks stayed in New York City, playing in Brooklyn to take on the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets had played the previous night, narrowly defeating the Detroit Pistons.

Game Summary

Despite resting three starters, Brooklyn kept things close against the Bucks in the first quarter. Milwaukee could shoot the ball well from three to jump-start their offense, but Brooklyn could feast in the restricted area to keep the game within reach, and Milwaukee ended the first quarter 32-31. The second quarter was the Khris Middleton show as he was pacing the Bucks’ offense, scoring plenty and racking up assists for Milwaukee. It started to look like Milwaukee would pull away, making an eleven-point lead with three minutes left in the half, but Brooklyn again was chipping away at the lead before a Malik Beasley three gave the Bucks a 66-59 lead at halftime. It was partially worrying for Milwaukee that the Nets could keep it that close despite Brooklyn only making one three-pointer in the first half.

Both teams kept things close and even saw Brooklyn briefly take the lead with five and a half minutes left in the third quarter. That lead only lasted twenty seconds as the Bucks were able to retake the lead on a Beasly three-pointer. The Nets kept things close for a few minutes before the Bucks created some separation, leading 100-92 at the end of the third. Milwaukee’s offense was too much for Brooklyn to handle in the fourth quarter as the Bucks steadily increased their lead throughout the quarter, getting as high as sixteen when Adrian Griffin put in the reserves, who saw some late threes and brought the game to the finish line to the tune of a 144-122 score. The Bucks will now travel to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers this Friday for the first time this season. The Nets will go to the nation’s capital and face the Wizards on Friday.

What did we learn?

Have you embraced loving offense? Because if you haven’t, you need to at this point. I’m sure I am not the only person to say it in the recap, but the Bucks are an outstanding offensive team and, at best, an average defensive team as it is currently constructed. But that isn’t a bad thing. The Bucks’ offense was at its clinical best. Sometimes, we see Giannis or Damian Lillard do heroic or jaw-dropping things to carry the offense; other times, it could be shooting three points well, maybe even donating the points in the paint category. Against Brooklyn, we saw the Bucls function like a well-oiled machine. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the team in scoring with 32 points, achieving this on 12 field goal attempts. Khris Middleton had 27 points and ten assists. The Bucks shot 23/51 from three, with Cam Payne and Malik Beasley each making five. the ball movement was arguably the best it’s been on the season, as the team recorded 41 assists.

Three Gifts

This was Khris Middleton’s best game of the season

It would be interesting to see how Khris would adjust this season. Going from the second option in the Bucks's offense to a clear number three atbest had its pros and cons. Middleton;’s game is its best when he can focus on shooting threes and having isolation against smaller defenders. He doesn’t need to be playmaking or facilitating the offense, and tonight, we saw Khris in his bag. The second and fourth quarters flowed through him, and Milwaukee’s offense looked at its best when he was dialed in. He made intelligent passes and great lobs to Giannis, and this is the version of Khris that Milwaukee needs in the postseason. His defense is washed, but Khris’ offense is a treat for Milwaukee.

Milwaukee’s interior defense was not great.

Brooklyn had 70 points in the paint. That is not bad, and it could have been worse had Brooklyn not missed some bunnies near the rim. Brooklyn had 52 paint points in the first half, which was a key reason for keeping the game close. Brook Lopez was not effective in this game, which saw him play 25 minutes. Bobby Portis, in 31 minutes, was left in a lose-lose position. Brooklyn had 17 offensive rebounds as well, taking full advantage of Milwaukee playing small the majority of the game. Is it concerning that a depleted Nets team hung around longer than we would like? Yes, it is, but the mantra for the Bucks this season is good luck keeping up with us, and the record shows that is completely fine, so maybe this is me being nitpicky.

Never take Herb Kohl for granted.

Shortly before the game tipped off, former owner Herb Kohl passed away. Riley was able to speak about it here. I became a fan of the Bucks as a kid in the 90s. The team wasn’t good, but the tickets were cheap and the Bucks were always there. One of my close friends’ dad worked at the Bradley Center, so occasionally, we would hear stories about his interactions with Senator Kohl, and the consistent theme was how nice and respectful he was. This was true as I got to meet the Senator a few times, and you wouldn’t guess he was one of the richest people in Wisconsin or a senator if you saw him in George Webb’s. Kohl’s impact and legacy will forever be present. His department store’s cash allowed us to clown a Phoenix fan, and he ensured the Milwaukee Bucks stayed in Milwaukee. the team under his ownership could only be described as violently mediocre, but he did care about the Bucks, and even the 8th-seed or bust teams at least tried to be respectable. The Kohl ownership did not see on-court success like his predecessor or successor, but his off-the-court impact was the most extraordinary feat in franchise history. The Milwaukee Bucks wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Herb Kohl, and I will always appreciate and respect them just for that.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Khris to Giannis is a well-oiled machine. There were at least three alley-oops, and it seemed like they had played together for a while.

  • Cam Thomas and Mikal Bridges only played the first quarter. Bridges played 40 minutes the night before in Detroit. His starting allowed him to keep his consecutive games streak, which is now at 423.
  • MarJon Beauchamp heard us complain about his taking off two feet for dunks/layups and has now made it his mission to shut us all up while staying true to himself.
  • Giannis is just like me; we have the same shoes and love talented Brazilian players

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