38 days and 19 games later, the Bucks finally lost a basketball game. On their home court against a Dallas Mavericks team without their star Luka Doncic, Milwaukee put out a dud of a performance offensively and were cut short of the franchise record 20-straight wins. Final score: 120-116.
The first quarter wasn’t pretty for the Bucks. Hot deep shooting by Dallas buried the home team early. The Mavericks have the best offensive rating with Luka on the court and the third-best in the league without him, so it wasn’t exactly surprising they were able to knock down shots without him. What was surprising was the second-best offensive team and the number one defensive team couldn’t slow down the likes of Seth Curry and Kristaps Porzingis.
Milwaukee found themselves down seventeen in the middle of the second quarter a few offensive possessions strung together put the Bucks down just three at the half despite shooting ~6% from the field and from three than Dallas.
Usually, coach Mike Budenholzer can fire up his team at the break and often will erupt in the third. Apparently, Giannis was the only one who heard what he had to say because the rest of his teammates ghosted on the offense. Milwaukee put up just twenty points in the entire third quarter and thirteen of those came from the MVP.
By the time the fourth quarter came around, it was too late. Whenever the Mavericks needed a big shot, someone came through. It wasn’t until the final three minutes with the Bucks down eleven that the fourth quarter felt like a game. Through a series of easy twos and missed free throws from Dallas, Milwaukee got the game to within three with a Giannis free-throw pending after an insane and-one layup by the Freak.
He missed the shot, but Sterling Brown got the rebound with less than five seconds left in the game. Without much consideration, he put up an ill-advised shot from under the hoop with Porzingis, who is significantly taller than Sterling, breathing down his neck. The shot was blocked and the ball went out of bounds off of Sterling and that was the end of any hope the Bucks had.
It had to happen sometime. It’s the NBA and against a team as good as the Mavs, you can’t afford to have so many players not show up on offense, especially with Eric Bledsoe remaining sidelined.
Seth Curry and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 52 of Dallas’ 119 points on 18-34 shooting and 8-16 from three. KP was a game-high +20 and as a team, the Mavericks shot 47% from the field with 16 made threes. They played well, but the defense wasn’t really what killed Milwaukee in the end.
Let’s get the Freak out of the way right now because he wasn’t part of the problem. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 48/14/4 on 18-31 shooting and 11-16 from the free-throw line. Giannis got whatever he wanted when he wanted and did his fair share on both ends of the floor.
The rest of the starters didn’t fair as well. Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Wesley Matthews, and Bledsoe’s replacement in the starting lineup Donte DiVincenzo combined for 23 points on 9-34(!!!) shooting and 3-16 from deep. When you lose by three points, you have to put a lot of the blame on the starters not named Giannis putting on this kind of a showing. The defensive effort was there, especially from Donte, but they only showed up for that side tonight.
The bench wasn’t so good either, again with one exception. Kyle Korver was a team-high +16, with the only other Buck with a positive +/- being Donte. Korver had 17 on 5-7 from deep and even blocked Seth Curry on a three. Besides Korver, the Bucks bench shot 11-32 from the field and 2-12 from three.
So, let’s sum this up with Giannis’ and Korver’s numbers vs. the rest of the Bucks offense. Giannis and Korver combined to shoot 24-39 from the field (61.5%) and 6-13 from deep (46.2%). The rest of the Bucks shot 20-66 from the field (30.3%) and 5-28 from three (17.9%). When you’re down an important piece on both ends of the floor and are playing a top-three offense, you can’t afford to have a team performance like this.
Still, we need to recognize the incredibly impressive feat Milwaukee accomplished. 18-straight wins is no joke and games like this happen to every other NBA team much more often. The Bucks remain firmly in the top spot in the Eastern Conference and can now look to start a new streak when they host the LA Lakers Thursday night. Tip is set for 7:00 p.m. CT.