MILWAUKEE- On a night that was star point guard Eric Bledsoe’s birthday, he and the team delivered the perfect present, a victory for the Bucks, who are on a roll right now. This win, which improved Milwaukee to 15-10 on the season, was a 117-100 victory over the Jazz, who with Donovan Mitchell, had surprised people early in the season, and figured to be a tough opponent.
Per usual, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for Milwaukee in this one, as he continues his ascent in the NBA ranks, with 37 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists on an incredibly efficient 14/22 from the field. However, Antetokounmpo also got plenty of help on the offensive end from his teammates, primarily Bledsoe and Khris Middleton with 20 points apiece. Amazingly, the trio has averaged at least 20 points per game each over the last five games, which includes their homestand in which they did not suffer a loss.
Antetokounmpo got things going early for the Bucks, both from a nice spin and finish in the paint, to a pretty midrange jumper as well. If there is really a weakness to Giannis’ game, it is generally stated to be his jumpshot, but has looked much more confident with it so far this season.
Milwaukee led by 10 after the first quarter, and nine at the half, and never truly looked back. Malcolm Brogdon continued his great play off the bench with 16 points, and wants to “continue (his) role of doing what it takes to help the team keep winning.”
When Giannis felt like taking over, he did so, scoring twelve quick points in the third quarter to really help put the Jazz away. The numbers also helped tell the story in this one, as every Bucks starter was a double digit positive in the plus/minus category, while every Jazz starter was a double digit negative.
Another big part of the victory was keeping Jazz star rookie Donovan Mitchell in check, who had been on a tear, including breaking Utah’s rookie franchise record with 41 points in a game. Asked about defending Mitchell after the game, Coach Kidd responded, ” I thought Bled set the tone. He took the challenge again, and we feel that Bled is one of the best at defending the pick and roll.”
Kidd continued with his explanation, stating, “Bled also had back up down low for help if he got beat, and I thought guys made it tough on him, and made him work for it on the other end.”
Bledsoe was also asked about defending Mitchell, who finished with just 12 points on 4/17 from the field. Bledsoe alluded to the fact that he is not afraid to take on a challenge on the defensive end, and also called himself a “dog” to go against out on the court, as he spoke with a big smile on his face.
Milwaukee, winners of six of their last seven, has a few days off before they travel down to the Big Easy to face Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, and the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.