Milwaukee started things off strong with a pair of Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks and some timely turnovers generated on defense, but the talented Denver offense kept pace on the scoreboard. The first quarter was a lively affair with baskets made on both ends, and it ended with a slight Bucks lead, 38-37. Things slowed down in the second quarter, but Milwaukee kept the pressure up and built up some momentum while Nikola Jokic was on the bench. However, Denver came back and put Brook Lopez into some foul trouble and reached halftime with only a 66-63 advantage for Milwaukee.
The fireworks didn’t stop after the beginning of the third quarter, after Milwaukee had built up a bit of a lead the Nuggets would come storming back and tie things up again. After a couple of threes went down for Denver and the Bucks’ offense got stuck in the quagmire, all of a sudden the Nuggets were on the right side of a 19-4 run and the Bucks had to dig in to avoid losing all the momentum. Khris Middleton tried and scored some timely buckets to attempt to shift the tide, but the third quarter ended with a Denver lead of 97-85. A Giannis-at-center lineup (partially due to 4 fouls for Brook Lopez by the start of the fourth quarter) wasn’t enough to keep Denver at bay; the lead ballooned to 20 points halfway through the final period, and with MarJon Beauchamp taking the court with Milwaukee’s reserves, this one was over.
Stat That Stood Out
Milwaukee made 4 threes in the first quarter, and they made only 5 more for the rest of the game. The long-range brickfest is a common (yet unwelcome) visitor when the Bucks are on offense, and tonight it completely undermined Milwaukee’s efforts to keep pace with Denver. For their part, the Nuggets hit 15 three-point shots in the same timeframe, but the long ball opened up up shots inside the arc as well that the Bucks struggled to defend while Brook Lopez sat with foul trouble and Nikola Jokic performed near the peak of his powers. As a reminder, if Giannis doesn’t win MVP, Jokic is a perfectly reasonable candidate to take the award instead.