A monstrous Week 20 was headlined by two road games: one being in Miami and the other being in Los Angeles. Monday evening would provide a showcase of the two favorites of the Eastern Conference teams and Friday evening would feature the primetime, crucial matchup between the two teams that many would predict to be in the NBA Finals.
The Milwaukee Bucks started their week on Sunday afternoon against the Charlotte Hornets, who are in a major rebuilding face without Kemba Walker anymore. It was a chance for Bledsoe and Terry Rozier to battle it out once again after a quite eventful Milwaukee vs Boston playoff series.
While few expected the Hornets to win this one, it was going to be much closer considering Middleton was out with an injury. The Bucks seemed to struggle without Middleton as they were shaky with their leads throughout the entire game. The Hornets were up for some of the second quarter but the Bucks fought back, as always, and sustained a lead for the rest of the game to end up winning 93-85. The Bucks never had a convincing lead and it even seemed as if the Hornets were going to regain the lead based on the momentum shift in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, a 41-point, 20-rebound, and 6-assist night from Giannis propelled the Bucks to a close-knit victory.
Tuesday evening was a huge matchup for the Bucks. The Miami Heat have done damage to Milwaukee in the past and if the Bucks have any hope of making it to the NBA Finals, this was a game they needed to show up for. The Heat were full-strength for this one and the Bucks luckily got Middleton back in the starting lineup.
While the Bucks put up a fight throughout the first quarter, the Heat were on their game as they managed to lead for the majority of the game. The Bucks failed to score 20 points in both the third and fourth quarters, and ended up losing 89-105 in a game Bucks fans will want to forget very quickly. Giannis was shut down by the Miami defense as he only scored 13 points with 15 rebounds. Middleton also had a rough night with just 12 points off of 4/16 shooting.
On Wednesday night, the Bucks returned home to take on the Indiana Pacers, who just like the Heat, have defeated the Bucks this season. Victor Oladipo was once again out with another injury so the Pacers were playing with a depleted roster.
Luckily, as we have seen multiple times throughout the year, there was no way the Bucks were going to lose two straight games. The Bucks started off running as they pulled away with an early lead with a huge, 36-point first quarter. However, the Pacers came right back as they brought the lead down to four at halftime. But the Bucks played much better in the third and fourth quarters, paving the way for a 100-119 victory. Giannis put up 29 points, 6 assists, and 12 rebounds; Middleton had 20 points with 8 rebounds; and Donte DiVincenzo had a quality 19-point night off the bench.
What we were all waiting for was the Friday night battle against the Los Angeles Lakers. The MVP talk has been heating up and it is no surprise that Giannis and LeBron are at the forefront of the debate. Friday night would be the night that may be the deciding factor between who wins the 2020 MVP award.
While the Bucks seemed to be on their game in the first half, it was the Lakers that outplayed the Bucks in the third quarter to obtain a lead and never look back. The two teams were level in most statistical categories, but the Lakers came up on top in the end with a 103-113 victory. Giannis did have a quality 32-point, 6-assist, and 11-rebound night but it did not help that the shots from Middleton and Bledsoe were just not falling. DiVincenzo had another good game off the bench with 17 points off of 7/13 shooting. Nevertheless, the Bucks were no much for the dynamic duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who had 30 and 37 points respectively. LeBron had a near triple-double as he demonstrated why he is still an elite presence in the NBA.
The Bucks reported that in Friday’s game against the Lakers, Giannis suffered a “minor joint capsule sprain of the left knee” and will be out for roughly two weeks. This is concerning for the Bucks who, especially in Week 20, have been heavily reliant on Giannis. Middleton needs to find his form to carry this Bucks side through the next couple of weeks. It is essential that he also gets Bledsoe back into his rhythm as the Bucks have an extensive scoring void to fill without Giannis.
Bucks fans will be disappointed in this week’s performances; however, it is not the time to panic. There are still 19 games left in the regular season, just enough time for Middleton and Bledsoe to get hot prior to the playoffs. DiVincenzo’s contributions off the bench have served the Bucks well. It is just that he needs the help of others to ensure that the team regains its momentum.
Moreover, the Bucks are also missing George Hill, who has struggled with injuries this year. It is clear the role he plays for this team as they rely on his presence off the bench to provide some experience and scoring when the other guards cannot seem to succeed in doing so.
Week 21 will hopefully be better for the Bucks. Today (Sunday), the Bucks are in Phoenix for another Sunday clash against the Suns. The next two games will be grueling matchups as they will be away against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night and back at home against the Boston Celtics on Thursday evening. Finally, Saturday will be full of excitement against the Warriors at home who have just recently gotten back their superstar in Stephen Curry.
David’s Milwaukee Bucks Week 20 Grade: C-
Milwaukee Bucks Week 21 Schedule: (March 8 – March 14)
- Sunday, March 8th at 4:00pm CT: @ Phoenix Suns
- Monday, March 9th at 8:00pm CT: @ Denver Nuggets
- Thursday, March 12th at 7:00pm CT: vs Boston Celtics
- Saturday, March 14th at 7:30pm CT: vs Golden State Warriors