The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the visiting Phoenix Suns 109-105 in their first game since former head coach Jason Kidd was relieved of his duties.
1. Nothing but respect for MY President. Malcolm Brogdon played exceptional basketball tonight against the porous Suns’ defense. The President put up a career-high 32 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block (he was also a team-high plus-16). Without Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee soreness), the Bucks needed the other guys to step up, and Brogdon answered the call admirably. He could do no wrong tonight and got whatever he wanted on the offensive end. He’s been a model of consistency all season long, and he is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. He’s enjoying a very nice sophomore season where he’s averaging 13.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists all while shooting 47.9% from the field and 37.6% from deep.
2. Khash is king. Khris Middleton has been one of the most unfairly scrutinized Bucks’ players this season, but he stepped up in a huge way tonight. Middleton finished with 35 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, and 2 steals. He shot 13-19 from the field and knocked down 2 of his 4 three-point tries. He must really enjoy playing against Phoenix, considering the fact that he torched them for 40 points when the Bucks played the Suns in Phoenix. His shooting numbers have fluctuated this season, but he is undoubtedly a huge part of this Milwaukee Buck team going forward. It will be interesting to see how his role on the floor changes with interim head-coach Joe Prunty at the controls.
3. Marshall Plumlee was a nice surprise tonight. Although he only played 8 minutes and didn’t make a field goal, he made a pretty decent impact on both ends of the floor. He was aggressive on the offensive end and it resulted in him going to the free-throw line 6 times, he made 4 of them. Defensively, he was active and flying around. This was a refreshing sight to see since Milwaukee’s bench has largely been a negative this season. He was the only member of the Bucks’ bench to finish with a plus-minus in the plus’s (plus-10).
4. Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker continue to play poorly. After a spurt of both of them playing well after the new year, they quickly regressed. In 25 minutes, Dellavedova didn’t score but he did hand out 6 assists. He was 0-3 from the field and continues to show no signs of his jumper improving. This season, he’s shooting 37.8% from the field and 37% from three. The Bucks desperately need him to step up, and the bar has already been set so low that they’ll take anything they can get from him. As for Thon Maker, his horrible season continues. He was arguably the worst Buck tonight and finished with 3 points and 1 rebound in 10 disappointing minutes. He was also a team worse minus-11. Thon continues to show no confidence in his game, repeatedly fumbles passes and gets outmuscled too easily. He still has a long way to go, and patience will be the key with Thon, but what we are seeing from him is certainly not encouraging.
5. Eric Bledsoe was a thief tonight. He swiped 4 steals to go along with 19 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists. This was another shot at revenge for Bledsoe, and he made the Suns pay tonight. E-Bled had been struggling the last few weeks, and hopefully, this is the start of a hot streak with Milwaukee’s schedule easing up. He was a much-needed acquisition to the Bucks, and he adds a completely different dimension to this team with his speed on both ends of the floor. It’s safe to say, he wants to be here.