Bucks Head to Brooklyn After Taking Down the Champs
In a night to remember at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks not only beat LeBron James and the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, but did it in convincing fashion, 118-101, behind 34 points, 12 rebound, five assists, and five steals from the Greek Freak in 35 minutes. In fact, the King himself was once again outplayed for the third time in their last four meetings posting 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists, and even a game-high seven turnovers. He was even shown taking his shoes off when he was pulled from the game with six min remaining in the fourth quarter.
Giannis and the Bucks had been coming off an impressive 104-96 road win down in Orlando on Sunday and brought that energy back home Tuesday night. After the Cavaliers jumped on Milwaukee early getting up as much as 27-13 in the first quarter, the Bucks responded with runs of their own to eventually go into the locker room with a 58-54 lead at the half. Then the third quarter happened, which turned the BC crowd into a frenzy as Milwaukee simply outplayed the champs with defense and their ability to run the floor by outscoring them 34-20. Jabari Parker, who finished with 18 points in 31 minutes, showed his aggressiveness to get to the rim and helped lead the charge. It was perhaps the best quarter of basketball the Bucks have played all season to this point. Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue was so fed up with his team’s effort that he subbed out his entire starting lineup with just over three minutes left in the third quarter. Lue gave his starters one more shot in the fourth, but the Bucks were just too much and he eventually gave in with six minutes remaining. Bucks head coach Jason Kidd obliged and gave his bench including rookie Thon Maker some much-needed minutes to finish the game as well. It got so bad for the Cavs that Maker got the internet buzzing after he crossed over 38-year-old Chris “Birdman” Andersen making him fall; then proceeded to step back and hit a beautiful 20-foot jumper and the Milwaukee crowd let him hear it.
Bench Mob Comes Alive Again
Milwaukee won with a complete team effort from the starters and the bench, which scored 48 points led by Michael Beasley’s 17 points on 7-10 shooting in 26 minutes. Beasley’s job has been quite simple this season and that’s put the ball in the basket. He was instrumental in getting them back in the game in the first half and continued to be a spark in the second half. His ability to score has been exactly the Bucks needed since he was acquired a day after Khris Middleton went down. Greg Monroe continued to thrive in his bench role as of late as he added a healthy 14 points and six rebounds. As I’ve said before, Monroe looks like a whole different guy this season. Not only has he been efficient on the offensive end, but he’s been considerably better on the defensive end as well being more active in the passing lanes while protecting the paint. Milwaukee’s 23-year-old rookie Malcolm Brogdon has made a considerable impact this season and that continued Tuesday night as he dropped 10 points on 4-5 shooting in 23 minutes including knocking down both of his three-point attempts.
The Wily Vet
Who doesn’t love Jason “The Jet” Terry? Not only has this guy been a powerful veteran voice in the locker room for Kidd’s bunch, but he seems to continue to be a factor on the floor. The 39-year-old is in his 18th season and still has some tricks up his sleeve. The Bucks were bringing the ball up after coming out of timeout and as he got J.R. Smith’s attention from the bench, the Cavs guard proceeded to indulge and walk over to give him a hug. As that happened, Smith left a wide open Tony Snell to get an easy two points.
Finding their Identity
It’s no secret that Bucks have been accustomed to getting up for big games against big time opponents such as the Golden State Warriors, whom they fell just short to 124-121 after having a chance to pull of the upset in the final moments. Tuesday was no different as they did not back down despite their slow start. Even though the win brought their record to just .500 at 8-8, it was still the signature win they needed to give them some momentum moving forward. While the Bucks play well against the better teams, they tend to have a problem playing down to their competition against teams not named the Warriors, Cavaliers, or Raptors. I understand that over the course of an 82-game season, it’s hard to get up for each and every game, but Milwaukee has to be better about their attitude and effort each night. If some guys don’t necessarily have it one night, there are plenty of guys on the roster who should be able to step up when that’s the case.
With a young team and a young coach, this isn’t an unusual problem as they have been dealing with this the last couple seasons. As frustrating as it can be, they have to recognize it and make the adjustments on their own. Nobody is going to hold their hand. The motto for this team has been “Own the Future”, but the Bucks must start to realize that the future is now. A winning tradition doesn’t happen overnight, but they are definitely on the right path. It’s easy to say, well Giannis and Jabari are just 21 years old so there’s time. I totally get that, but with the Greek Freak developing at the pace he is and playing at an All-Star level, it’s not far off to think that this team is ready for that next step.
The Bucks are on the east coast tonight as they get set to battle with the 5-12 Brooklyn Nets, who have won four of their five games at the Barclays Center. Milwaukee defeated Brooklyn 110-108 back on October 29th thanks to John Henson’s tip-in at the buzzer. These are the kind of games that the Bucks must get up for, and they should be able to after their big win Tuesday night.
This is part of a back-to-back home and home sequence with the Nets coming back to Milwaukee for a rematch on Saturday night before the Bucks welcome the San Antonio Spurs to the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Monday. Tip for tonight is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and can be found on Fox Sports Wisconsin.