Looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at home against the Denver Nuggets, the Milwaukee Bucks were up for a busy, four-game week to start off their February. Giannis was coming off of a shoulder injury and various bench players were struggling to stay healthy. George Hill would be out for the whole week but Donte DiVincenzo would be back after missing the game against Denver.
Sunday afternoon was the first of four games for the Bucks. The Phoenix Suns came to Wisconsin, practically as stark of a contrast in weather one could ever dream of in the United States. Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker, two players that many would have believed to be All-Stars, were facing off as two of the most notable “snubs” of the All-Star weekend.
Given the struggles of the Suns this far throughout the season, the Bucks were expecting a straightforward game and that is exactly what they received. The Bucks led for the entirety of the game and pulled away near the end to secure a 108-129 victory. Giannis finished the game with 30 points, 9 assists, and 19 rebounds, and Middleton piled on 25 points with 8 rebounds. The convincing win was an impressive response to their loss against the Nuggets.
The next game of the week was on Tuesday night away in New Orleans against the newly revived Pelicans side. Zion Williamson and Giannis Antetokounmpo squared off for the first time in this historic, and potentially telling dual. These two superstars surely will be the faces of the NBA for at least another decade.
While the game against Phoenix was straightforward, this one started off rough for the Bucks. For most of the first half, the Pelicans were leading the Bucks, by as much as 10 points, and it seemed as if it just was one of those nights for the Bucks. However, a huge second half push from the Bucks helped them storm back, retain the lead, and ultimately win 120-108. A monstrous 42-point third quarter and a 34-point, 17-rebound night from Giannis revealed the willingness to fight from the Bucks. All five starters scored in the double digits and managed to seal the win for the Bucks without a crucial George Hill off the bench.
Perhaps the most essential game of the week was on Thursday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. With his first pick in the 2020 NBA All-Star Draft, captain of Team Giannis, Giannis selected Joel Embiid. While it was coincidence the two would be facing off later that night, it comes to show Giannis’s respect for Embiid. Just like Zion and Giannis, Embiid will be around for awhile as one of the most dominant centers in the NBA.
Despite starting off well and securing small leads, the 76ers managed to decimate any momentum of the Bucks and for this reason, it was a back-and-forth first half. It could have been anyone’s game in the second half. Although the 76ers led for a few moments, the Bucks regained their lead and cruised to a 101-112 victory. Giannis finished the game with 36 points and a whopping 20-rebound night with 6 assists. Middleton, another teammate on Team Giannis, scored 20 points with 7 rebounds. Embiid had a rough night with just 19 points and 11 rebounds off of 6-26 shooting.
The final game of the week was away against the Orlando Magic. Even though the Magic were eight games under 0.500, they still were positioned at eighth in the NBA Eastern Conference and are technically a playoff-team. If they hold onto that spot, the Magic can expect to see the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
Even though the game was close for the first quarter, the Bucks really pulled away after that. At one point, they were leading by 27 points but the Magic fought their way back until it was just a 8-point deficit early in the 4th quarter. Nevertheless, the Bucks held strong and ended up winning comfortably at 111-95. Brook Lopez (yes, you are reading that right) surprisingly lead the way in scoring with 23 points and 6 rebounds, shooting 5-5 behind the arc. Imagine the Bucks’ potential if Brook Lopez continued to shoot three-pointers so well. Aside from Lopez, Middleton finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds and Giannis finished with 18 points, 9 assists, and 18 rebounds in a near triple-double performance.
The Bucks played well this week. It cannot be said enough how dominant and efficient Giannis is averaging 30.0 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, Giannis continues to prove why he is the reigning MVP. Milwaukee needs to make sure they resign him this summer. Furthermore, it has been relieving to see Middleton and Bledsoe return to consistency. Both will be necessary in a deep playoff push for the Bucks.
Right now, the Bucks are really missing George Hill off the bench. After hurting his hamstring, he has missed five straight games but may be returning in Week 17. The Bucks’ bench scored just 21 points against the Pelicans and 19 against the Magic, reinforcing Hill’s importance for the team.
Within the past couple days, the Milwaukee Bucks have been in the process of signing veteran forward Marvin Williams as their first buyout signing after the trade deadline. In order to clear space for Williams, according to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Bucks are reportedly planning on waiving Dragan Bender, who has played in just 7 games in his first year with the Bucks.
In Week 17, the Bucks again have a more relaxing schedule with just two games. The first game will be at home on Monday night against the Sacramento Kings, who are 10 games under .500. The second and last game of the week will be away against the Indiana Pacers, who recently got their superstar in Victor Oladipo back. Despite losing five straight games, the Pacers may pose some problems for the Bucks.
Next weekend, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton will be playing for Team Giannis in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game and Pat Connaughton will be representing the Bucks in the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. In addition, Khris Middleton will be participating in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. While the weekend is designed for most players to get some rest, it will be fun to see these three Bucks participating in the All-Star Weekend festivities.
David’s Milwaukee Bucks Week 16 Grade: A
Milwaukee Bucks Week 17 Schedule: (February 9th – February 15th)
- Monday, February 10th at 7:00pm CT: vs Sacramento Kings
- Wednesday, February 12th at 6:30pm CT: @ Indiana Pacers