Week 9 was bound to be full of exciting matchups as the Bucks would be playing both the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers in a series of a few days. While Luka Dončić was injured last week and Anthony Davis was questionable for Thursday nights game, the Bucks were surely going to find some difficulty with the other superstars on those teams.
Coming into Monday night, the Bucks had won 18 straight games. In order to get their 19th straight, though, they would have to defeat the now Porzingis-lead Mavericks who would be without Dončić after his ankle sprain. It was Porzingis’ first game against the Bucks since he was injured in February of 2018.
Although the Bucks got off to a relatively good start, the Mavericks fought their way back and sustained a lead for the majority of the game. Giannis was having another brilliant night but being down by about 15 points with just over four minutes to go, Coach Budenholzer controversially decided it was time to pull all the starters and rest them for Thursday’s battle against the Lakers. Nevertheless, it was the Milwaukee bench that somehow brought the deficit down to about five points. With under a minute to go, then, Coach Budenholzer put back Giannis in the game. Although he was able to bring the lead to even three points, the Bucks just did not have enough time to retake the lead. The 18-game winning streak was now over. Even a 48-point and 14 rebound night from Giannis was not enough to stop Porzingis and Seth Curry, who both scored 26 points.
Sure it was not the loss Bucks’ fans were anticipating looking ahead to this week, the Bucks had to regain their composure for their crucial matchup against LeBron James and the Lakers. Although he was questionable early, Anthony Davis was ready to go and was able to play in what would be the biggest game of the season for both teams.
Even though the game was back-and-forth for the first quarter, the Bucks found their rhythm and just could not miss a shot. They looked a little shaky near the end of the game but the Bucks managed to maintain their lead and cruise to yet another win to become the team with the best record in the NBA. Giannis finished the game 34 points and 11 rebounds and George Hill piled on 21 points off the bench. The Bucks held LeBron James to 21 points but he still got a triple double. In addition, Anthony Davis did not look to be bothered with injury after putting up 36 points and 10 rebounds in 43 minutes. These performances were not enough to stop the Bucks, who improved to 25-4.
After the game against the Lakers, the Bucks flew out to New York to battle the New York Knicks, who even after drafting RJ Barrett, have failed to experience any form of success. Milwaukee knew this is a must-win game for them, considering they want to start building the gap between them and their competitors in the Eastern Conference.
As everyone expected, the Knicks never lead throughout the entirety of the game. Milwaukee won convincingly with a score of 123-102. Giannis recorded another triple double with 22 points, 10 assists, and 11 rebounds off of 8/10 shooting and in just 26 minutes of play. Six other Bucks scored double digits points, including 23 points for Middleton, who looks like he may be rediscovering his touch, and a smooth 17 points for the sharpshooter in Kyle Korver. None of the starters played more than 27 minutes, enabling Coach Budenholzer to experiment with some of the bench players.
Week 9 did start off poorly for the Bucks but many do not attribute the loss to the players themselves. I personally believe that the outcome may have been different if Coach Budenholzer were to have kept Giannis and the rest of the starters in the game. Nevertheless, that may have meant that Seth Curry and Kristaps Porzingis would have stayed in the game, making the situation rather debatable. In the future, it is essential the Bucks stick with games even if they are down late to ensure that all winnable games are won.
Despite this disappointment, the performance against the Lakers was telling to say the least. In defeating a full strength Lakers side, besides Demarcus Cousins, the Bucks showed that they are the best team in the NBA. Giannis has continued to shine for the Bucks and will surely be in the running for the 2019-20 NBA MVP. Consistent scoring from Kyle Korver and George Hill has also been very helpful for the Bucks, who will need to rely on the bench when the starters need to rest.
Week 10 will be busy for the Bucks as they have four games. The first two will be relatively challenging, given the first is against a hungry Indiana Pacers side and the second lies on Christmas day against the Philadelphia 76ers. The final two games of the week should not cause the Bucks many problems as they will be against the Hawks and the Magic.
David’s Milwaukee Bucks Week 9 Grade: B
Milwaukee Bucks Week 10 Schedule: (December 22 – December 28)
- Sunday, December 22 at 6:00pm CT: vs Indiana Pacers
- Wednesday, December 25 at 1:30pm CT: vs Philadelphia 76ers
- Friday, December 27 at 6:30pm CT: @ Atlanta Hawks
- Saturday, December 28 at 7:30pm CT: vs Orlando Magic