To the credit of the New York Knicks, the game was close enough all the way through where you weren’t totally comfortable turning the game off. But at the same time, there wasn’t a ton to complain about as far as the Bucks’ performance was concerned in their 120-112 victory over New York.
1. The offense came from (relatively) unexpected places. Up until the fourth quarter, Giannis Antetokounmpo was uncharacteristically off. At one point he was just 4-11 from the floor. But he took over the last frame and finished with 28 points and did a lot of damage from the free throw line (going 14-18 from the stripe). But through the first three quarters, Milwaukee needed to find scoring elsewhere. Khris Middleton played put together a nice game after battling some inconsistencies and injuries of late. He finished the game shooting 11-15 and was good for a game-high 30. And Jabari Parker continued to play with confidence. Finishing with 12 points, Jabari’s efficiency and outside shooting keep raising the ceiling for what he could potentially offer when he’s ready to have his minutes restriction taken off.
Jabari, Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Sterling Brown combined to go 8-15 from three. If that type of shooting performance from that quartet stays – or becomes – the norm from here on out, it would be a blessing sent from the Shooting Gods.
The bench combined for 41 points. That’s great considering it’s still missing two important pieces in Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon.
2. Let’s get (a little) weird with the City uniforms. Using cream as a uniform color is unique and pretty cool. But the Bucks have opted to wear white gear/accessories with them. It doesn’t look great. The white and cream are too close to matching colors that it looks sort of looks like it should be the same, but they’re too different to actually look like they match. (Sort of like how the Minnesota Vikings helmets and jerseys are always different shades of purple.) The Bucks could go with black or green accessories to highlight the cream. Or … they could use the opportunity to break out some blue (which is in their color scheme). But the white doesn’t work. The uniforms look a little less … well, uniform. It doesn’t highlight the cream as much as it makes the jerseys and shorts look like they’ve been through a few too many wash cycles. Like that white t-shirt you’ve hung on to for way too long and is starting to fade into a yellowish hue. Embrace the cream. [This message brought to you by Cream City Central.]
(Semi-related note: Maybe I need a new TV or better eyes, but it was especially hard to tell players apart this game. Khris Middleton wore tights – which I don’t think is common – added an extra degree of difficulty in differentiation.)
3. Thon Maker doesn’t play (again). When the Bucks made transactions to pick up Marshall Plumlee and Tyler Zeller they played it off as being all about adding depth to the front line. Which is was. But at the time it didn’t seem so clear that the moves were – to some extent – about replacing Maker’s minutes. Plumlee was okay in his limited action but Zeller has given the Bucks staff just about everything they wanted or asked from him. Maker’s role on the team (both in the short-term and long) could quietly become something to keep an eye on if this trend continues.
4. Milwaukee controlled this game throughout. Though a blowout win would have been undoubtedly favorable, it was nice to see the Bucks maintain the upper hand pretty much from the opening tip. This game could be described as one of those where the score felt closer than it should have been, but it didn’t feel like the Knicks ever really put the outcome in jeopardy. Level of competition may make one want to judge this win on a curve, but the Bucks did what they needed to and pulled away late.
5. This win needs to start a streak. There’s a cluster of teams fighting for the mid-to-low seeds in the East. The Bucks have a golden opportunity to take advantage of a pretty weak upcoming schedule to position themselves in a favorable spot. Milwaukee’s upcoming schedule is as follows: @Memphis; @Orlando; Atlanta; @Cleveland; L.A. Clippers; @Chicago; San Antonio; @L.A. Clippers. That should result in a minimum of a 7-2 record (counting the newest Knicks win) over that span.