With an impressive victory against the Lakers in Week 9, the Bucks were hoping to continue their winning ways with a crucial midweek matchup against the 76ers on Christmas Day. Given the Bucks were earning their spot in a prime-time matchup on one of the most highly esteemed venues, the Bucks are surely becoming a significant powerhouse in the NBA.
On Sunday evening, the Bucks were back at home for a Central Division battle against the Indiana Pacers, who will remain as a slight threat in the Eastern Conference with their summer signing of Malcolm Brogdon. It was the first game back in Milwaukee for Brogdon, who had played such a significant role last season for the Bucks.
Just like most games for the Bucks, a shaky start is followed by a quality finish. Throughout the first quarter, the Bucks failed to maintain a lead. It was not until mainly the second half that the Bucks were able to pull ahead and ultimately dominate. The Bucks came out on top with a 28-point victory much in part because of a 18-point and 19-rebound night from Giannis and five other Bucks players scoring in double digits. Indiana only shot five free throws throughout the entire game compared to the Bucks 17 free throws. This, along with great defense and a superior bench, propelled the Bucks to their second-straight victory.
On Christmas Day, the Bucks were featured in an Eastern Conference marquee matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. While the Bucks had surely been the better team throughout the season, the shakiness as of recently without Bledsoe and against the top teams has somewhat impaired the momentum for Milwaukee.
Although the Bucks were putting up a fight early, the 76ers played incredibly well for the entirety of the game. After the first quarter, Philadelphia pulled away and continued to steadily build their lead as the game progressed. A huge 31-point night from Joel Embiid as well as an all-around strong night from the rest of the team and suppression of Giannis paved the way for yet another Bucks defeat. Giannis was held to 18 points off of 8/27 shooting but Middleton had a quality 31-point night. The Bucks were going to have to figure it out against the 76ers in the future because they may meet in the playoffs.
On Friday evening, the Bucks flew out to Atlanta to battle the Hawks. Despite the absence of Giannis, who was resting because of a recent back injury, there was no doubt that the Bucks should be able to defeat the Hawks. The Hawks hold the worst record in the league, even though they do have a young superstar in Trey Young.
As expected, the Bucks led for the entire game and managed to beat the Hawks by 25 points without any starters playing over 25 minutes. Khris Middleton again led the way with 23 points; nevertheless, there was a significant contribution from the Milwaukee bench, who combined for 42 points. It was a sloppy performance from the Bucks and Hawks, who both had 18 turnovers, but all that matters is the Bucks managed to come home with another victory.
The final game of the week came on Saturday evening at home against the Orlando Magic. This time, Vucevic was back for the Magic and the Bucks were still without Giannis and Bledsoe. Given the Magic have the eight seed in the Eastern Conference and the Bucks are the first seed, this could also be a playoff matchup. Hopefully neither team will have any injuries at the time so that the game would be closer.
Despite a few hiccups in the first and third quarters, the Bucks held the lead for the majority of the game and held on in the end for their second-straight victory. Like Friday night’s game, Khris Middleton led the way in scoring with 21 points and the bench played incredibly well. The bench as a whole combined for 51 points in part because of two 17-point nights from George Hill and Robin Lopez. The game was telling because it showed that the Bucks do not necessarily need to rely on Giannis for every game and that the depth of the squad is sufficient.
With this week being the final full week of 2019, it must be said that the Bucks are set up for a significant run in the playoffs. They have surely garnered the respect and merit from the rest of the league and can stand confident moving into 2020. While the injury to Bledsoe did raise some red flags, the Bucks have adjusted adequately and the bench has certainly performed well. Khris Middleton has led the team recently without Giannis, but it is imperative that he stays consistent in order to relieve some of the pressure from Giannis come playoff time.
In Week 11, the Bucks should have a rather easy set of games considering each of the teams are under .500 and each game will be played at home. Hopefully, this means that a new winning streak will be in the making.
David’s Milwaukee Bucks Week 10 Grade: B
Milwaukee Bucks Week 11 Schedule: (December 29 – January 4)
- Monday, December 30 at 7:00pm CT: vs Chicago Bulls
- Wednesday, January 1 at 7:00pm CT: vs Minnesota Timberwolves
- Saturday, January 4 at 7:30pm CT: vs San Antonio Spurs