Bucks Lead

Bucks Roundup: 1/1-1/8

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Happy Monday. Here’s your Bucks Roundup.

Monday January 1st: Raptors 131, Bucks 127 (OT)

In their first showcase of the new year, the Bucks fell to the Toronto Raptors, 131-127 in overtime. DeMar DeRozan was the star of the show, lighting up the Bucks for a career-high and Raptors franchise record 52 points, on 17-29 from the field. DeRozan added 8 assists and snatched 5 boards to put the cherry on top of a dominant performance. Giannis ended up posting a nice line, racking up 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists, but the stats felt empty in this one. Eric Bledsoe knocked down one of his 5 three’s to start the overtime giving the Bucks the early advantage. But alas it was all for not, as the Raptors took control, stretching the lead to as much as 7 in the period. The Bucks weren’t able to close the gap and that was all she wrote.

Wednesday January 3rd: Bucks 122, Pacers 101

58 points from Giannis and Khris Middleton fueled the Bucks to an easy victory over the Victor Oladipo-less Indiana Pacers. Antetokounmpo was toying with every Pacer defender, or in some cases, multiple Pacer defenders, with every possession he had. The MVP candidate  finished with 31 points (12-18 FG) 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks in 3 quarters of play. Middleton was similarly efficient, dropping 27 points on 9 of 14 shooting, including 3 of 4 from three. Malcolm Brogdon added 17 points and Matthew Dellavedova helped out with 9 assists, but the story in this one was Giannis. Whether it going over the top, stepping around, or bouncing off of defenders, Antetokounmpo couldn’t be slowed down in this one. He had one of his most dominant performances of the season, showing off every single bit of his physical gifts. The only real concern to take away from this one was the way Domantas Sabonis had his way with Thon Maker. It was Sabonis’s second time eclipsing 20+ points this season, as he shimmied his way to a career-high of 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Thon still has a lot to improve on to even be an acceptable backup at this point.

Friday January 5th: Raptors 129, Bucks 110

During the Pacers game you could probably have turned the game off somewhere in the middle of the 3rd quarter and not missed anything. That qualifies for this one too. The Bucks started off strong before a 14-0 run brought Toronto right back into the game. Leading by just a bucket to start the second half, the Raptors completely broke open the game. DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas went completely bonkers combining for 34 of the team’s 43 total points in the just the third! Valanciunas had 20 points and nine rebounds in that period alone as John Henson, then Thon Maker, proved powerless to even slow him down. Antetokounmpo finished the game with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field (6-of-9 from the free throw line), five boards, five dimes, two steals but was -16 for the game. Without significant contributions from anyone else on the roster the Bucks were incapable of slowing down the Raptors after halftime.

Saturday January 6th: Bucks 110, Wizards 103

Where to even start in this one. Giannis picked up his fifth foul and sat until the final 2 minutes. Where he then proceed to come in as cool as the other side of the pillow, knock down 3 clutch jumpers and seal the victory for the Bucks. Oh, and Matthew Dellavedova got ejected for a clotheslining. Giannis was everything and more in this one, going for 34 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block on the night with a truly MVP-level effort. He was masterful in every aspect, going to the free throw line, setting up teammates, and providing help defense on every rotation. Foul trouble plagued him tonight, forcing him to sit out and watch as the Bucks went stagnant in the 4th but he was able to come in late, stemming the tide and closing the game. The big three all showed out tonight; as Bledsoe went for 21 points while Middleton poured in 20 of his own. John Wall continues to be very good at the sport of basketball scoring 16 points to go along with a season-high, 16 assists. Marcin Gortat feasted on the Bucks bigs down low for 17 of his own. Sigh. Thanks to KEG the Bucks were able to leave the nation’s capital with their first win there in over four years.

 

This Weeks’ Games

Monday January 8th @ Indiana Pacers

The second of two meetings between the Bucks and Pacers over the past week. Victor Oladipo will be participating in this contest for the Pacers after missing the last game with a right-knee injury. The game should be a good test for the Bucks as the Pacers are just a game and a half behind the Bucks in the win-loss column.

Wednesday January 10th vs. Orlando Magic

The Bucks will have one of their easiest games on paper when the second from the bottom Orlando Magic roll into town. Aaron Gordon (19.2 PTS, 8.1 RBS) has been a bright spot for Orlando this year, and has been mentioned as a leading candidate for the most improved player award. His athleticism and strength might give Giannis a test, but the talent elsewhere on the Bucks should be able to step up and over the Magic.

Friday January 12th vs. Golden State Warriors

ESPN will be in town as the Bucks will take their chance at toppling the defending champs. Stephen Curry (27.8 PTS, 5.2 RBS, 6.3 ASTS, 41.1% 3FG) has been as good as when he was crowned the unanimous MVP and with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green surrounding him the Warriors will be heavy favorites. But Giannis and company have proven to be up to the challenge before.

Sunday January 14th @ Miami Heat

The Bucks will escape the Wisconsin winter to head to the Miami sun. The Heat are one spot ahead of the Bucks in the standings right now so this matchup will be important not only when for jockeying for position, but to determine how the Bucks stack up against likely playoff competition. Expect Jason Kidd to shorten up the rotation a bit and shake up the sand down there on south beach.

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About Josh Sinclair

General NBA and Bucks Lead contributor. Always down to talk buckets and why grilled cheese is the best. Twitter: @thejoshsinclair

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