It was a thrilling All-Star Weekend, full of festivities and full of Bucks. Khris Middleton participated in both the Skills Challenge and the All-Star Game; Pat Connaughton impressed all with some wild dunks at the Slam Dunk Contest; and of course, as the captain of Team Giannis, Giannis Antetokounmpo put up an impressive performance on Sunday night in the All-Star Game.
After a short break, the Bucks returned to action against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday evening, who were not only without Andre Drummond, who recently was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but also Markieff Morris and Blake Griffin. A number of former Bucks got their chance to battle against the Bucks with the likes of Thon Maker, Tony Snell, Christian Wood, and Brandon Knight.
While the Pistons showed some signs of fighting spirit, the Bucks took hold of the lead with just under 9 minutes to go in the first quarter and never looked back. The Bucks defeated the Pistons 126-106 off of another monster night from Giannis, who had 33 points off of 13-23 shooting, 4 assists, and 16 rebounds. Expectedly, Middleton scored 28 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, showing his capability of being Giannis’ sidekick. As a whole, the Bucks shot over 50% from the field and wound up with an astounding 14 steals, forcing 21 turnovers. It was a much deserved win for the Bucks coming off of a defeat against the Pacers.
The second and final game of the week came against the Philadelphia 76ers, who have struggled to perform away from home. Despite this, the Bucks knew they were against a dangerous side with a great deal of young talent in Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris, along with a veteran who always seems to pick apart the Bucks in Al Horford.
This primetime matchup on ABC, between two powerhouses of the Eastern Conference, was supposed to be a close, thrilling game. It did remain close for much of the first half, with the Bucks holding onto their lead but the 76ers fighting their way back; however, the Bucks never let go of their lead and ended up pulling away in the second half to defeat Philadelphia 98-119. Paralleling Thursday night, Giannis and Middleton were the two leading scorers for the Bucks. Giannis scored 31 points off of 12-17 shooting and had 8 assists with 17 rebounds. Middleton had 25 points off of 10-15 shooting with 2 assists and 9 rebounds. Both him and Giannis are playing like All-Stars.
It was another light week for the Bucks with just two games following the All-Star break. Nevertheless, the win against Philadelphia was crucial in that it proves the Bucks’ competition in the Eastern Conference are no match for the talent on the Bucks. Middleton is showing he can fulfill his role as a the Bucks’ “number two.” Giannis’s continual dominance along with Middleton’s consistency, as stated numerous times before, is what will propel this team to an NBA Championship.
In Week 19, the Bucks have a significant task at hand. While Monday night should be a straightforward game away against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday evening will be an insanely tough opponent. On Tuesday, the Bucks will be in Toronto against the Raptors, who have had Bucks-like success, winning 16 of their last 17 games. This will be another primetime matchup for all to see. Finally, on Friday night, the Bucks will be back at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have had a surprisingly quality season with Chris Paul.
David’s Milwaukee Bucks Week 18 Grade: A
Milwaukee Bucks Week 19 Schedule: (Febrtuary 23 – February 29)
- Monday, February 24th at 6:00pm CT: @ Washington Wizards
- Tuesday, February 25th at 6:30pm CT: @ Toronto Raptors
- Friday, February 28th at 7:00pm CT: vs Oklahoma City Thunder