In the first full week of 2020, while the Midwest was getting smothered with inches of snow, the Bucks were enjoying their warm vacation away in the Southern and Western United States as they ventured on a four-game away stand.
On Monday night, the Bucks were in San Antonio to battle the Spurs. They had just played the Spurs back at home two days earlier where a poor start was revitalized by a second half push by the Bucks. This time, they hoped to start off on the right note so that they would not have to work from behind.
Sure enough, they played well for the first six minutes of the game. But after that, the Spurs pulled away and never looked back. The Bucks managed to hold a 1-point lead early in the second quarter but after subsequently, the Spurs led for the rest of the game and defeated the Bucks by 22 points. The Spurs shot 51.1% as a team and outscored the Bucks bench 59 to 37. Giannis almost had a triple double with 24 points, 8 assists, and 12 rebounds, but that was not enough to hold off the streaky Spurs.
Two days later, the Bucks fought the Golden State Warriors at the new Chase Center. While most fans entering this season would mark their calendars for this game, the reality leading up to this game was that the Bucks were going to dominate. The Warriors would be without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and D’Angelo Russell due to injury and of course without Kevin Durant, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. The Bucks, who have not lost two straight games in over a year, were hoping this would be a straightforward victory.
Nevertheless, a shaky start for the Bucks was rather alarming for Milwaukee fans. The Warriors took it to the Bucks early and led for much of the first quarter. Even when the Bucks took the lead later in the game, they would not hold onto it tightly as the Warriors always seemed to put up a comeback. The struggle of the Bucks to sustain their leads needs to be fixed if the Bucks want to continue having success for the rest of the season. Giannis did finish the game with 30 points and 13 rebounds to pair up with Khris Middleton, who tacked on 21 points. Milwaukee ended up winning 107-98 unconvincingly as they need to figure out how to close out games more effectively.
On Friday night, the Bucks packed their bags and went to Sacramento for a late battle against the Kings. Given the Kings had De’Aaron Fox healthy for this game, they knew it would be essential to stick to their game and avoid being overconfident. The Kings have had many struggles this year, but any team can turn it around whenever.
In the first quarter, the lead went back and forth for a little while but then the Bucks seemed to retain control and hold onto it for a great deal of time. However, following the recent trends, the Bucks gave up their 18-point lead and ended up trailing for a short amount of time midway through the third quarter. As the Bucks once again had to regain their composure and tighten up their game in order to comeback and win this game, questions again must be raised regarding the consistency of this team. Middleton and Bledsoe had strong nights as they scored 27 and 24 points respectively. The Bucks’ second-straight win, even though it was by a margin of 21, reinforces that there is still work to do for the team.
Finally, the last game of the week was on Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. Given the recent critiques of the Bucks’ consistency, they knew this game would be important at showcasing their true colors as Portland is full of talent.
While Carmelo Anthony and Damian Lillard were able to generate somewhat of an early lead, the Bucks managed to fight back and secure a much needed, convincing victory through through a dominant performance. Aside from the first six minutes of the game, the Bucks were leading throughout the rest of the game and did not appear to have any lapses in quality. A huge night from Giannis, Bledsoe, and Middleton, who scored 32, 29, and 30 points respectively demonstrated the talent in the starting five for the Bucks. The Bucks got their third straight victory, outscoring the Trail Blazers 122-101 in an impressive victory.
While it is easy to critique the team in their struggles to hold onto their leads, it is necessary to remember that no team is perfect and that they have still been getting the results they need in order to sustain their top spot in the Eastern Conference. It was nice to see Khris Middleton show signs of his former dominant self as he had a very strong week for the Bucks. Giannis of course will continue to play well for the Bucks as he is destined for yet another All-Star appearance. If Middleton, Giannis, and Bledsoe all perform well in a given game, the Bucks will see themselves winning nearly every game.
Week 13 will be hopefully more exciting for Bucks fans as a vital home game against the Boston Celtics populates Thursday night. There will be another home game, earlier in the week on Tuesday night, against the New York Knicks but it would be astounding if the Bucks did not find that game straightforward. The final game of the week will be on Saturday night against the Brooklyn Nets, who are expected to have Kyrie Irving back and healthy. They may pose a threat to the Bucks but Milwaukee should still win.
David’s Milwaukee Bucks Week 12 Grade: B
Milwaukee Bucks Week 13 Schedule (January 12 – January 18)
- Tuesday, January 14th at 7:00pm CT: vs New York Knicks
- Thursday, January 16th at 7:00pm CT: vs Boston Celtics
- Saturday, January 18th at 5:00pm CT: @ Brooklyn Nets