For the first time since November 6th, the Milwaukee Bucks managed to win a basketball game and did so with a 92-85 win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. Even though the game wasn’t ideal, in which the Celtics were more physical in the paint by a difference of 16, Milwaukee finally shoved the monkey off their backs. Head coach Larry Drew after the game said, “It feels good to get that monkey off your back, really does. Especially the kind of way we did it, short-handed as we were.” It was the team’s fourth straight win over the Celtics and the franchise hasn’t had that type of a streak over Boston since the 1998-1999 season. Although the victory was good, the Bucks can’t think too far ahead, they face the Celtics again on Tuesday in Boston.
Brandon Knight: 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Knight flirted with a triple double for the first time in his career. This game was easily his best in Milwaukee so far after battling a hamstring injury this season that has limited his playing time. “Yeah I would say so, as I continue to get more healthy, more adjusted to the plan after sitting down for about three or four weeks, I know I’ll continue to get better and better and our team will continue to get better and better.”
O. J. Mayo: 22 points (9-of-14 shooting). Mayo and Knight combined on the night for 42 points and the tandem played their best this season together. Mayo hit a couple of cold blooded shots down the stretch of the game to seal the deal and shut the door on Boston. “Obviously, every night’s going to be a challenge all around the board – outside, inside. Just about continuing to play hard and playing the right way.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo: Ten points, seven rebounds and four assists. I would have to say that this was Giannis’s best game of this season so far. “There are a lot things that people don't know I can do, but you are going to see. As the season goes on, you are going to see." His combination of length and speed is fun to watch in person. The highlight play of the game was when he went coast to coast by blocking a Jordan Crawford dunk and finishing with a slam of his own at the opposite end of the court in the second quarter.
John Henson: 13 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Henson managed to get his seventh career double-double and his first of the season. By the way he played, I wouldn’t be surprised if he continued to stay at that spot in the rotation. “We hit some big shots to stop them as well, if we can do that every night and keep playing like we played I think we’ll start to win a few games.” The combination of him and Giannis on the floor together managed to do well in Milwaukee’s zone defense. After the game Larry Drew said, “We didn’t run a lot of man-to-man that first half, but when we started running out zone, we just waited to see if they were going to make shots. They didn’t fall for them, so we stuck with it and seemed to have an effect.”
Ekpe Udoh: 38 minutes, nine points and 10 rebounds. Udoh played the most minutes of any Bucks player on the night and fell just one point short of a double-double. “We gotta watch the film and see what we did today and try to duplicate it going forward.”
The Bucks will have a few days off before heading to face Boston on the road again on Tuesday. The notable game of next week will be on Wednesday when Brandon Jennings makes his return to Milwaukee with the Detroit Pistons. Jennings piled 15 points and 13 assists when the Bucks played Detroit this past week. Milwaukee will then head back on the road to Washington on Friday followed by them returning back to Milwaukee next Saturday to face the Brooklyn Nets.
By: Aron Yohannes
Milwaukee faced the Charlotte Bobcats at home on Saturday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center having won their last 10 games against them at home. That streak ended, and ended ugly. So ugly, that Larry Drew announced after the game that he will be making a starting lineup change. It’s unclear what those changes will be, but Drew was certainly in his most frustrated mood of the season so far. “I really thought tonight after last night’s loss this team would come out with some energy, they would play with passion, and they did not do that. And I told the guys after the game, there will be changes in our starting lineup. We definitely owe the fans a big apology, we totally let this city down tonight.”
Changes very much so might be needed for this Bucks lineup. The starters in Saturday’s game accumulated only 18 total points and were outscored by Khris Middleton, who came off the bench. Milwaukee was forced to shoot a measly 35% in this game and managed to turn the ball over 15 times in the process as well. Kemba Walker said, “We really locked in. Our defense has been pretty good thus far and we got to continue it.” Josh McRoberts and Al Jefferson both were able to control Milwaukee’s big men in the paint tonight. The Bucks also got killed inside the paint by a difference of 20 and Jefferson dropped in 19 on the night. Fast break points were also an issue, being outscored by 16.
I’m unsure of what the next starting lineup for the Bucks will look like, but I think it’s safe to say that Brandon Knight will likely be included in it now that he’s healthy. I’m expecting the starters to change expect for Ersan Ilyasova and maybe, just maybe, John Henson could finally be bolstered in for a bigger role along with Middleton too. When Drew does indeed change his lineup, it will be the Bucks' 10th different one in 13 games this season. We all know the Bucks aren't very good right now, but they can still go out and compete in games like they did on Friday in Philadelphia. A lineup change won't make that huge of a difference to me if they can't execute and shoot the ball better compared to how they've done so far. Milwaukee scored their fewest amount of points in a game this season on Saturday (72) and shot in the 30's for fourth time this season. Maybe this change will bring a spark to this team and get that losing streak monkey off of their back.
Charlotte’s win snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Bucks on the road. On the flip side, Milwaukee’s losing skid continues to eight consecutive games as they get ready to face Brandon Jennings in Detroit on Monday. Yeah, I do have huge expectations for this game because of Jennings facing his old team but I'll save most of those emotions for when he comes back to Milwaukee on December 4th. Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton will be facing their former teams in the game also, so hey, don't forget about them!
The Bucks’ next home game will be this Wednesday against the Wizards (5-8) before they go on the road and face Charlotte again on Friday, and then come back home on Saturday against the Celtics (5-10).
The Milwaukee Bucks are currently 2-5 and will be in Indiana on Friday night to play the undefeated Pacers. Here is my quick update on the current state of the team that is currently going through one of the biggest injury plagues I've witnessed.
Covering my second straight home opener for the Milwaukee Bucks, the game on Saturday night didn’t quite equal to the one last year. Well, the Bucks brought in 11 new players and a game winning shot wasn’t made with 0.7 seconds left off the inbound.
In front of a crowd over 16,000, the team faced an opponent they regularly have dominated against in the past, the Toronto Raptors. The Bucks were riding a four game wining streak against the team from across the border, on top of playing well overall in home openers with a 33-13 record.
Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour were both inactive for the second straight game as both of them continue to deal with injuries. Milwaukee doesn’t have a game until next Wednesday, so both of them should be ready to go by then. In the meantime, Nate Wolters is the only healthy point guard for the squad and got his first NBA start in just his third NBA game. Wolters became the first Buck drafted in the second round to crack the starting lineup within his first three career games since Dan Gadzuric.
Oh, and it just so happened to be in the home opener. If Knight or Ridnour can’t play in Wednesday’s game against Cleveland, Wolters will have a huge task playing opposite of Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving.
Wolters played well, and he actually made the first basket of the Bucks season at home with a pretty baseline floater. Nate finished with only seven points but managed to dish out 10 assists while playing a team high 36 minutes in the game. “The point guard is the engine of the team. You need him to play well to have a chance. That’s what he did.” John Henson said after the game.
Milwaukee playing from behind wasn’t anything new after coming back from deficits of 22 and 25 points against New York and Boston. Milwaukee shot themselves in the foot multiple times on the night though, which included them missing five of six free throws. Milwaukee went 10-18 from the foul line on the night. After the game, O.J. Mayo said, “We had opportunities. We got some fast break opportunities. Missed some layups. It’s all about converting. Finishing up the play.” Missed opportunities became the phrase of the night in the Bucks locker room, Milwaukee didn’t capitalize after shrinking the Raptors’ lead to five with 8:54 left to play in the fourth. Mayo hit two big shots from behind the arc during the fourth quarter as well, including one that tied the game at 85.
Yet Toronto proved to be too much within the last few minutes for Milwaukee. On top of the ugly foul shots, the inability for the Bucks to stop Toronto’s big men from grabbing boards in the paint and stopping them from getting second chance points put this one away in the end. The Raptors outrebounded the Bucks 60-38, with eight players grabbing at least five rebounds.
Toronto spoiled the home opener by defeating Milwaukee 97-90. The Raptors snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Bucks, which stood as Milwaukee’s longest active streak against any opponent.
Milwaukee will play their next game at home against Cleveland, while Toronto’s next game will also be at home against Miami.