With a crucial Week 9 looming, the Bucks aimed to maintain their winning streak at a rather straightforward part of their schedule. While the success of the team is crucial, especially against some of the more developing teams of the league, it is just as crucial that the team stays healthy. Unfortunately, at the end of the week, a starter sustained an injury ahead of an important home stretch against the Western Conference threats.
On Monday night, the Bucks stayed at home to battle the Orlando Magic at the Fiserv Forum. Without Nikola Vucevic healthy, though, Milwaukee expected to breeze through this one.
Sure enough, while the first quarter was back-and-forth, the Bucks pulled away yet again and ended up winning by a margin of 9 points. The night was headlined by yet another 32 point night with 15 rebounds for Giannis as the Bucks won their 15th straight win.
Two days later, on Wednesday evening, the Bucks were at home against the New Orleans Pelicans, who are still waiting for their young superstar in Zion Williamson to suit up for his first NBA game. The Bucks were without Giannis, who was dealing with right quad tendon soreness. It was the first game the Bucks would be without Giannis this year, implying the rest of the team would need to step it up.
Although there were was a small hiccup early, Milwaukee dominated for the majority of the game. They ended up defeating the Pelicans by 15 points. Eric Bledsoe led the way with 29 points off of 10/13 shooting, showing NBA critics why the Bucks were right to keep him. Aside from him, Middleton totaled 24 points and Ersan Ilyasova, who got the start, scored 18 points off of 8/10 shooting. 16-straight wins for the Bucks just meant that they would start to widen the gap at the top of the Eastern Conference.
On Friday night, the Bucks flew out to Memphis to take on the newly-developed Grizzlies side. Sadly for the Grizzlies, Ja Morant was unable to play but their other youngster, Jarren Jackson Jr., was going to have to carry the team if they were going to have a chance against the Bucks.
Given the Bucks held a lead for the majority of the first half, it seemed as if it were going to be one of those nights again. Nevertheless, a near 10-point lead was unsustainable for the Bucks, who lost it in the third quarter. Eric Bledsoe had gone down with an injury, so it would be up to Giannis to bring the Bucks back into the game. As one may expect, he did just that. In the fourth quarter, the Bucks retained the lead and never looked back, winning by 13 points. Giannis had 37 points and 11 rebounds and Middleton added 26 points in 35 minutes.
The Bucks returned to Milwaukee for the final game of the week against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They would be without Eric Bledsoe, who has reportedly sustained a right fibula fracture and will be out for about two weeks. Despite this, they were up against a side who had only won six times this season in 25 games. The Bucks were still favored to win this one.
There was no doubt the Bucks would secure another victory on Saturday night. Although the Cavaliers had two 1-point leads in the second quarter, the Bucks yet again pulled away for their 18th-straight victory. Aside from Giannis, who had 29 points in just 23 minutes, Middleton piled on 24 points off of 8/12 shooting and Robin Lopez had a stunning 16 point night. This win marks the 2nd longest streak in franchise history.
As I have said week after week, even though these wins have been mostly against teams that are in either a rebuild phase or that are struggling in general, these are the wins any team needs to get if they want to secure a top spot in their conference. Giannis has been consistently performing throughout this season and has been making another case for MVP.
In Week 9, the Bucks have a very tough task in maintaining their winning streak. On Monday night, the Bucks will square off at Fiserv Forum against the Dallas Mavericks, who may be without Luka Dončić after he suffered a moderate ankle sprain last night. Even without him, though, the Mavericks are still a quality team with Kristaps Porzingis. Furthermore, on Thursday night, the battle against the Los Angeles Lakers will surely be telling of the Bucks future. Both teams are at the top of their respective conferences and each have only lost three games. The Bucks will be without Eric Bledsoe, so Giannis will need help from a number of the bench players if the Bucks want to maintain their winning streak. Finally, the Bucks will fly out to New York to battle the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. This should be a relatively easy victory for the Bucks considering the consistent struggle of the Knicks as of recent times.
David’s Milwaukee Bucks Week 8 Grade: A
Milwaukee Bucks Week 9 Schedule: (December 15 – December 21)
- Monday, December 16 at 7:00pm CT: vs Dallas Mavericks
- Thursday, December 19 at 7:00pm CT: vs Los Angeles Lakers
- Saturday, December 21 at 6:30pm CT: @ New York Knicks