The surging Milwaukee Bucks came to the Mecca of basketball and steamrolled the New York Knicks, 103-89. This was Milwaukee’s 3rd straight victory, and their 7th win in their last 8 contests.
1. Milwaukee’s three-headed monster could not be stopped tonight. The trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe combined for 66 points and they got whatever they wanted in the second half. The first half was a struggle for the Bucks, but they came out guns blazing in the second half, particularly Milwaukee’s “marquee three.” When they’re clicking on all cylinders like they were tonight, the Bucks are extremely difficult to beat. Eric Bledsoe was exceptional tonight, finishing with 23 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists while shooting 7-11 from the field. The last two games by Bledsoe have shown that his ankle issue is behind him and that he’s got his legs back. As for Giannis Antetokounmpo, he finished with a hard-earned 23 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks in 35 minutes. He also jumped and dunked over Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr in the third quarter. Another great performance by Milwaukee’s MVP candidate. Khris Middleton continues to play well, and he was ultra-efficient tonight. He scored 20 points on 8-15 shooting.
2. Thon Maker was a nice surprise tonight. The second-year big man finished with only 7 points and 3 rebounds, but he did a ton of things well tonight that don’t show up on the stat sheet. Thon finished the game with a plus-26 in 22 minutes as he was forced into a starting spot with John Henson nursing a sore hamstring. MAker certainly answered the call tonight, and he looks a lot more comfortable out there on the floor under interim head coach, Joe Prunty.
3. Milwaukee’s team defense was superb. Although the unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis left the game with a scary knee injury, the Bucks really turned up the pressure on the defensive end. They forced the Knicks into 20 turnovers which led to the Bucks scoring 18 points off of those turnovers. It’s no secret that Milwaukee is at their best when they are forcing live-ball turnovers, and tonight was no different. They also forced the Knicks to shoot 41.6% from the field, and an ugly 21.7% from three. The Bucks’ defense is locked in right now and it’s a treat to watch.
4. Jabari Parker continues to impress since returning from his torn ACL. In 20 minutes, JP was 4-9 from the field for 10 points while he also hauled down 3 rebounds. What’s most impressive about his return is how explosive he is coming off the dribble. He had a bevy of aggressive takes to the basket and continues to attack his defender whenever he’s in the game. Defensively, he’s still a work in progress, but it’s hard to not be pleased with what he’s shown us so far. He’s only going to get better.
5. With another game being short on depth, the Bucks’ bench was pretty solid today. Gunner, Sean Kilpatrick came off the pine to score 16 points in 17 minutes (including 3 triples), while Jabari pitched in 10 points of his own. Without John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, and Malcolm Brogdon, the Milwaukee Bucks bench is operating by the next man up policy. For a bench that looked completely dead in the water a few weeks ago, they have since awakened. The spark Jabari brings off the bench is infectious, and you can see it in the teams’ play.