On the seventh night of the NBA season, the Bucks gave to us our first home win of the 2019-2020 season. Milwaukee buried the Cleveland Cavaliers in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to win this one convincingly, 129-112.
This game was by no means a representation of the final score. The developing Cavs made this one a game for the majority of the first 39 minutes, where they found themselves down just five despite having much lower shooting percentages than their opponent. Cleveland finished with 45/31% splits while the Bucks toppled them with 52/45% splits, well above either of their first two games this season.
Even with the deficit in shooting, Cleveland kept it close behind a downpour of floaters in the first half paired with an incredibly quick pace. The Cavs got 100 total shots up in this game, something I don’t see very often. What worked for them was the guys who were taking the most shots also were making the most.
Tristan Thompson finished with a team high 18 shots but made eight, Collin Sexton went 8-15, Jordan Clarkson 6-13, and Kevin Love at 5-12. Milwaukee’s perimeter defense was the biggest weakness on that side of the ball tonight which caused all of these players besides Tristan Thompson to have plenty of outside opportunities all night. Lucky for Coach Budenholzer and his squad, they didn’t make enough of them to be the difference in the game.
The Bucks weren’t incredibly impressive in their third game of the season. The Cavaliers are not projected to be a playoff team, yet they exposed Milwaukee on a number of plays throughout the game. Besides the perimeter shots allowed, a TON of shots in the restricted area fell short or flat out missed the hoop and the energy lacked on the defensive side until Coach Bud would call a timeout to spark some life into them.
Eric Bledsoe was a main focus of this game for viewers, and maybe not for the best reasons. Bledsoe’s night was highlighted by four total missed layups, all of which should have been made and one of them even had no defender within five feet. Still, he finished with 14/4/8, even with missing all four deep attempts, and had only a single turnover.
Another guard on the Bucks, Pat Connaughton, had his best game of the season and will probably stand as such for some time. He shot 6-8 and 4-5 from deep to end the game with 17/4/4. He was only outscored by former All-Star Khris Middleton, who had 21 on 9-14. This tandem was by far the most efficient for Milwaukee on offense tonight.
Giannis made some improvements in this game from his last couple but it didn’t show in the stat sheet, where he posted 14/10/7 in 29 minutes on 5-15 from the field. Where he did take steps was in his control. Contrary to the eight turnovers he put up on Saturday, he had only two tonight while also managing just two fouls, his first game without fouling out.
The season is very young. Yet, I’m still surprised Bud hasn’t elected to play Donte DiVincenzo or DJ Wilson. Each saw their first minutes of the season tonight when they subbed in with less than two minutes to play. As you could probably guess, nothing happened at all. Now through 149 minutes of the season, we are left wondering why the opportunities aren’t their for two of our most recent draft picks.
All in all, it feels good to go 2-1. The goal is to go 3-1 for every four games and you’ll find yourself within reach of 60 wins and most likely the Eastern Conference regular season title. Milwaukee beat a team they absolutely should beat every single matchup this season and it’s much easier (and more fun) to improve during win streaks rather than losing streaks.
The Bucks will continue their season on Wednesday night in Boston on ESPN. Tip off against the Celtics is set for 6:30 p.m.