After bouncing back from a loss to Indiana a couple of weeks ago, the Bucks sought to further build on their winning streak with a three-game week. All eyes were on Tuesday night’s matchup in Toronto, as many would predict them to be the two teams who could represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
The first game of the week was away in Washington D.C. on Monday night as the Bucks were preparing for a struggling Wizards side. Bradley Beal had been playing well for the entire season; however, without the help of John Wall, who is still out with an injury, the Wizards have been unable to win games. The Bucks were hoping this trend would continue as they had to rest for a crucial matchup against Toronto the following day.
Whether or not the Bucks expected a tough matchup against the Washington Wizards, they were surely surprised by the fight they were up against. After leading for the entire game, the Bucks lead slowly yet steadily faltered late in the fourth quarter as. Just as it seemed to be slipping away and the Wizards had a lead with about a minute to go, two free throws from Bledsoe brought the game into overtime. Subsequently, a 9-point overtime for Khris Middleton carried the Bucks to victory as they held on to win 137-134. Combatting a monstrous 55-point night from Bradley Beal, Middleton finished with 40 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds. Along side him was Bledsoe, who had 23 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds, and Giannis, who had 22 points off of 8/12 shooting and 14 rebounds. It was definitely closer than the Bucks wanted it.
Next was the game we were all waiting for. It was Giannis’s return to Toronto for a battle between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors would be without Marc Gasol for this game and the Bucks were relatively full strength.
For the majority of the first half, it seemed as if the Raptors were going to pull away and take control of the game; however, near the end of the first half, the momentum seemed to shift in the Bucks favor. The Bucks outscored the Raptors 34-19 in the third quarter to ultimately build a lead and never look back. After the third quarter, the Bucks cruised to a 108-97 victory and stunned the Toronto crowd. Giannis finished with a near triple-double with 19 rebounds, 8 assists, and 19 rebounds, and Middleton finished with 22 points. The shots did not seem to fall for either team as the Bucks shot just 38.1% from the field and the Raptors were even worse, at 35.2%. Whether or not it was the defensive strengths of the teams that caused the misses, the Bucks will take the win as it means they are further in front of the Raptors at the top of the Eastern Conference.
The final game of the week was on Friday night at the Fiserv Forum as the Bucks were welcoming the newly franchised Oklahoma City Thunder with Chris Paul as their star. While the Bucks knew it was a winnable game, they did not expect to win with such ease as they experienced.
After a small battle in the first quarter, the Bucks completely dominated the Thunder. At one point, the Bucks were winning by 51 points! By the end of the game, the Bucks lead fell to just 47, as they continue to prove themselves. It was a great win for the Bucks because the starters had the chance to rest. In just 27 minutes, Giannis had 32 points, 6 assists, and 13 rebounds; talk about efficiency. The Milwaukee bench put up 68 points with every bench player scoring at least three points.
This was a huge week for the Bucks. The Bucks really showed their true colors in the win against the Raptors. Instead of giving up, they fought hard and pulled their way back into the game. It is reassuring because they need that mentality for the playoffs, when not every game will be as a smooth-sailing.
The Bucks have a busy, yet essential, week in Week 20. Their first game should be rather straightforward, as the Bucks are away against the Charlotte Hornets today (Sunday). The next three games are not so straightforward. On Monday night, the Bucks will be in Miami against the Heat, who have caused the Bucks many problems so far this season. Next, on Wednesday night, the Bucks will be back at home against the Indiana Pacers, who defeated the Bucks in their last meeting. Finally, the Bucks will be in Los Angeles on Friday night for a primetime, must-watch, grueling matchup against the Lakers. Winning all four games this week will be tough, but it’s the Milwaukee Bucks; that’s just what they do.
David’s Milwaukee Bucks Week 19 Grade: A
Milwaukee Bucks Week 20 Schedule: (March 1 – March 7)
- Sunday, March 1st at 12:00pm CT: @ Charlotte Hornets
- Monday, March 2nd at 6:30pm CT: @ Miami Heat
- Wednesday, March 4th at 6:00pm CT: vs Indiana Pacers
- Friday, March 6th at 9:30pm CT: @ Los Angeles Lakers