It was a bizarre night in Minneapolis but the Milwaukee Bucks overcame a number of distractions to bury the streaking Minnesota Timberwolves, 134-106. If you made the decision to watch Milwaukee basketball rather than Monday Night Football, you made a great choice because Mike Budenholzer’s squad put on a show for the few that showed at the Target Center despite the absence of Karl-Anthony Towns.
The game was originally set to tip-off at 7:10 p.m. CT but due to an uneven rim on one end’s basket, the game was delayed an entire 49 minutes. After the hoop was fixed, both teams had the opportunity to warm up again but you had to wonder what the energy would be like to start the game.
The Bucks relied almost entirely on their stars in this one, the first game they’ve had to do so this season, and they didn’t disappoint one bit. Eric Bledsoe led the charge out of the tunnel by scoring 11 in the first quarter followed closely by Khris Middleton. Giannis was right there with them with 6 points and the three highest paid players for Milwaukee carried the squad the rest of the way.
While the Bucks only led by four at the end of one and seven at half, the game never felt in jeopardy. Despite a rough shooting performance from deep for most of the game, Milwaukee finally got all the way back to attacking the hoop on a consistent and successful basis and the Wolves had no answer. The lead was twenty by the end of the third and it was just a stat-packing final minutes after that.
Giannis had another superstar performance with 34/15/6 in only 27 minutes on 14-19 from the field. Eric Bledsoe had the most complete game aside from the MVP with 22/9/6 on 8-14 from the field and he impacted the game beside the what shows up in the stat sheet by energizing the defense when it was starting to give up driving lanes. The third star and former All-Star Khris Middleton was a scoring machine with 26 points on 9-15 from the field and 4-7 from three. All three combined for 82 of Milwaukee’s 134 which nearly tells the story of the bench for the Bucks.
What has been a deep unit and impactful so far, Milwaukee’s bench struggled from start to finish. Donte DiVincenzo was the exception with 17/7/1 on 6-11 and 3-4 from deep. Outside of the Big Ragu, the bench shot 6-22 from the field and 3-14 from beyond the arc. This goes to show more than anything that the Bucks have many options throughout their roster that they can rely on and still demolish good teams.
Minnesota came into Monday night’s game 4-1 but were missing one of the best big men in the league in Karl-Anthony Towns who was serving his second game of a two-game suspension for getting into a brawl with Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid just a few days ago. Milwaukee had no absences and did what is expected of a team with their expectations. Still, it’s nice to see the team click so well this early in the season after some struggles in the first few games.
The Bucks will continue their road trip with a primetime matchup Wednesday in Los Angeles to take on the Clippers at the Staples Center. The game will not feature Kawhi Leonard’s co-star Paul George as he’s still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tip-off is set for 9:00 p.m. CT and will be nationally-televised on ESPN.