After a rather shaky Week 12, the Bucks hoped to continue their winning ways in an important Week 13 series of games. Of course the most sought after game would come on Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, who managed to beat the Bucks earlier in the season in Boston.
On Tuesday night, the Bucks were at home against the New York Knicks, who despite having a young superstar in RJ Barrett, have had a poor season overall. Milwaukee hoped it would be more of a straightforward game so that the starters could get some rest prior to the crucial game against Boston.
As expected, the Bucks cruised to victory yet again. The Knicks put up a little fight in the first quarter but the Bucks led for the entirety of the game. Giannis scored an astounding 37 points with 9 rebounds in just 21 minutes! Talk about scoring efficiency! It was an incredible performance from him and the rest of the Bucks side, and it was nice to see the bench getting a quality amount of playing time with the starters resting. As a team, the Bucks shot 48.9% and were leading by 35 points at one point in the game, securing their fourth-straight victory.
What we all were waiting for was the vital battle against the Boston Celtics, at home this time, on Thursday night. Jaylen Brown would be out for this game; nevertheless, the Celtics are full of a number of other stars that can cause any team major problems. This would be a huge test for the Bucks, as they may see the Celtics somewhere in the playoffs.
While we were sure to have a thrilling and close-knit game, the Bucks dominated yet again. They led for the entire game. Despite a lapse in the third quarter where the lead dropped down to six and eventually at the end of the game when the lead was down to five, the Bucks played incredibly well. They won 123-128, securing their fifth-straight victory. Giannis finished the game with 32 points and 17 rebounds and Khris Middleton scored 23 points off of 8/13 shooting. Off the bench, Donte DiVincenzo had 19 points and George Hill had 13 points. For a matchup between the one and four seeds, it seemed as if there is a huge margin between the Bucks and the Celtics as far as ability. Milwaukee has not seen such a quality team in decades.
The final game of the week fell on Saturday afternoon away in Brooklyn against the Nets. As the controversy still follows Kyrie Irving for his decision to join up with Kevin Durant on the Nets, the team has had its struggles this season. While they were hoping to get back in their winning ways after losing their last two games. Kyrie Irving may have escaped Boston, but he surely has not escaped the powerhouse of the Eastern Conference in the Milwaukee Bucks.
Early in the game, the lead went back-and-forth as it looked as if the Nets were going to put up a fight against the Bucks. But after the first quarter, the Bucks held onto their lead and just kept building it. Their lead reached 25 points near the end of the game as the Bucks sailed to their sixth straight victory with a final score of 117-97. Giannis and Middleton shined again with 29 and 20 points respectively. Giannis also grabbed 12 rebounds with 4 assists. Brook Lopez, despite only having 12 points, had five blocks and pulled down 7 rebounds. DiVincenzo, Hill, and Korver also deserve recognition for their role and leadership on the bench.
With the All-Star Break looming, and at least one Buck getting his shoes laced for the big day, the Bucks have continued to show why they will go far this year in the playoffs. By seemingly defeating the Celtics with ease, the Bucks are evidencing that they are the ones to beat in the Eastern Conference and that they may just be the favorites.
As the gap between the Bucks and the Heat, the second seed in the Eastern Conference, continues to widen, one may start to ask if it is time to give Giannis some days of rest. The trend of “load management” across the NBA is not always effective. I personally believe it is important to keep players fresh on the court so that they do not lose their touch but at the same time, I do agree that it is good to rest players. In turn, I think it would be plausible to play Giannis a less than usual, which is what Coach Buddenholzer has been doing so far this year. Unless there is any fear of losing the game and Giannis has had a quality performance, I feel that it would be better to save him for the playoffs; yet again, though, it is his career so I would allow Giannis to decide so that he stays content.
For the next two weeks, the Bucks will have a rather laid-back schedule with just two games per week. In Week 14, the Bucks will be up against the Chicago Bulls at home on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, tomorrow, as well as a game in Paris on Friday afternoon against the Hornets. Both games should be straightforward for the Bucks considering the Bulls are rebuilding and the Hornets have lost six-straight games.
David’s Milwaukee Bucks Week 13 Grade: A
Milwaukee Bucks Week 14 Schedule: (January 19 – January 25)
- Monday, January 20th at 4:00pm CT: vs Chicago Bulls
- Friday, January 24th at 2:00pm CT: @ Charlotte Hornets