Halloween has come and gone, but the haunting continued into November for the Orlando Magic. In their first Friday night game of the season and without Kyle Korver (rest), the Milwaukee Bucks fought through some early season rust to assert dominance over their Eastern Conference foe, winning 123-91.
Coach Bud and his team found themselves under the microscope more than they’d like to be this early in the season from fans and media alike after stumbling out of the gate through the first four games. Holding a 2-2 record, Milwaukee had an opportunity to right the ship in Florida just before a long road stretch and they took advantage convincingly.
The first six or so minutes were more of the same struggles we saw from the Bucks just two nights ago. The offense was taking a disproportionate amount of threes and not putting them in while Giannis continued to turn the ball over on his way to the hoop. The defense was late trailing every single ball screen and the Magic roster was finding the holes off the picks with ease.
Milwaukee took a timeout midway through the quarter and put in a complete bench unit along with Eric Bledsoe, who was the only starter showing the necessary energy. This flipped the switch for the Bucks and they quickly dug themselves out of a double-digit deficit to lead by four after the first quarter and they never had to worry about Orlando again. A much improved shooting performance paired with a cohesive defense buried the Magic and frankly it was entirely needed.
For one, Giannis put up the numbers of a great night and he played incredibly way for a majority of the second half, finishing with 29/14/6 on 10-16 from the field and 8-11 from the line. Still, his game-high SEVEN turnovers is something he needs to fix soon. Against a team like Orlando, it doesn’t make much of a difference when you’re hitting from the line and the paint. But when Milwaukee travels to Los Angeles next week to face Kawhi and the Clippers, 7 turnovers won’t cut it.
Eric Bledsoe had himself a fantastic night. He attacked the rim early and often and made Giannis-like kickouts under the basket to fill the stat sheet with 18/6/6. Along with Khris Middleton who had 16 points on 7-9 from the field, these two carried the Bucks through thick and thin early in the game and were the leaders the young guys needed tonight.
The bench was featured more in this game than any other so far this season. Donte DiVincenzo finally saw significant minutes on the floor and made the most of his 17 minutes, going 4-7 from deep and finishing with 14/3/3. And to cap off the night, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ older brother, put down a dunk over Magic guard Wes Iwundu with thirty seconds left that sent shockwaves through the stadium. It was Thanasis’ first points as a Buck and he made it count.
Milwaukee will take a quick flight home in advance of their game against the Toronto Raptors at Fiserv Forum on Saturday night. Tip will be at 7:00 p.m.