5 Takeaways: The Prodigy Lives, The Freak Concurs

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The Milwaukee Bucks beat the New York Knicks (92-90), the night after losing Malcolm Brogdon for extended time.

1. Eric Bledsoe returns from injury. Coming off a DNP in Minnesota due to a lingering ankle issue, the Bucks point guard gave it a go despite looking a step slower than normal. His first half was a rough one individually, tallying four points on (2-6) shooting, one rebound, two assists, one steal, and three personal fouls. He took Porzingis to the hole and finished with a nice soft top of the square lay in, but he looked like he had to out think him to find space. Normally he would have zipped past him and quickly layed it in, instead he had to exaggerate his steps, dribbles to keep Porzingis on his heels. His second half didn’t’ go much better, adding a three pointer and an assist, to go along with three more personal fouls to end his nights. He only managed 21 minutes, but if he hadn’t played injured, I don’t think the Bucks could have won. That’s the type of game that earns you a ton of respect around the building.

2. (Jerry Reynolds voice) BIG. SHOT. SNELL. Tony returned to the starting line up, and looked more comfortable as the fourth option. He was getting space to set and release his jumper, and the team was rewarded with (2-3) from three. Snell added another bucket, four rebounds, and two assists to his bounce back game. He simply fits much better in the starting line up than with the bench, hopefully he continues to settle in as we await The President’s return.

3. The Prodigy created a myth. Jabari Parker came out with a flamethrower in his return, 359 days after he tore his ACL. He showed promised at all three levels on offense, narrowly missing a three, working in midrange, and almost dunking over Kyle O’Quinn. Parker finished the first half with 12 points, giving Giannis the complimentary scoring piece he needs for a night anyway. He looked a step slow on the defensive end, but that’s to be expected. More notably, he looked to be in the best shape of his life. Jabari has calf muscles that’d get some compliments around the office, that hasn’t always been the case. No one knows the his future, but he certainly put on a memorable show Friday night.

4. Sparked Bench The bench has struggled to be productive this season, regardless of whether they started Snell or Brogdon. The bench struggles with creating their own shots, which isn’t ideal in the Bucks offense. Jabari changed that for the second unit, and everyone seemed to play better. Delly loves getting the ball to a true scorer, Thon seemed energized, and Sterling Brown continued his great play. Jabari is an offensive star in the league, but rehabbing him with the bench the remainder of the season, continues to look like the team’s best route. Jabari really believes in Thon, I think he’ll feed off the energy and get back to blocking shots, and shooting threes with a locked in confidence.

5. Giannis kills corny old shorts For the second time in two seasons, Giannis Antetokounmpo beat the Knicks with a deuce in the closing seconds of the game. Giannis brought the ball up the floor with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Joe Prunty decides not to call one his two remaining timeouts, letting Giannis work. A nice change of pace from a Middleton turn around jumper out of bounds play. Giannis dribbles the clock down, gets a high screen of John Henson, the Knicks switch Enes Kanter onto him. With the ball at the top of the key, the freak sets Kanter up with a hesitation dribble to his right, then spins back to his left, and lays it in off the glass with 1.9 seconds left from the charge circle. HUGE win for the team, Giannis hits the game winning, athletic shot, the day after he “badly twisted” his ankle in the closing moments of the blowout loss. Playing hurt makes you a legend, as much as basketball wants to recover all the time, a lot of local kids notice. I’m glad they have a tough star to aspire to be.

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