Week three brought the Milwaukee Bucks’ first loss of the season, but also was full of poster dunks, superb ball-movement, and a franchise records. Let’s dig in!
The Milwaukee Bucks entered the third week of the season on a high note, continuing their undefeated start with a win against the Raptors. Unfortunately, their undefeated start came to a screeching halt in the second game of the week, a contest against the Boston Celtics in the TD Garden.
The Bucks downward momentum did not continue for long, however, as they returned to their winning ways against a Sacramento Kings team entering Sunday’s contest on a five-game win streak.
Here we’ll relive the up and down action from the past week.
The Bucks’ first matchup of the week, against the Raptors, was a hyped-up standoff between the final two undefeated teams in the NBA. This was the first meeting in NBA history between two 6-0 teams.
Unfortunately, both Giannis (concussion-like symptoms) and Kawhi Leonard (rest), the teams’ superstars, were held out, diminishing some of the game’s hype and leaving the supporting casts to fight for top position in the East.
The Bucks’ cast emerged victorious, with a balanced effort that saw seven Bucks players score in double figures on the way to scoring 124 points. Even more impressive, was that the Bucks tied their franchise record, with 19 made threes, on a night where their second-best player, Khris Middleton, shot just 36.4 percent from the field.
Bench players Donte DiVincenzo and Tony Snell had their best games of the season, with Donte putting up a 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists stat-line and Snell scoring 11 on 3-of-3 shooting from behind the arc. The Bucks unequivocally displayed they were more than just a one-trick pony that relied on their superstar to win games.
The Bucks were unable to continue their winning ways against the Boston Celtics, losing by four points in an all out slugfest. Milwaukee did not go down easily, as the Celtics needed to make a franchise-record 23 three-pointers to sink the Bucks’ previously undefeated ship. The turning point of the game took place in the third quarter, where the Beantown ballers outscored the Bucks 38-25.
Giannis returned to action and put up a Giannis-like 33 points and 11 rebounds while making 13-of-22 from the field.
Other positive, notable stats were Malcolm Brogdon‘s 16 points while shooting 6-of-10 from the field and Donte DiVincenzo’s game-high +16 plus-minus in 24 minutes of action.
Brook Lopez was essentially non-existent, scoring only two points on 1-of-4 shooting (0-of-3 from three) and turning the ball over twice.
Khris Middleton also had an off game by his standards, making only 3-of-10 from distance, 6-of-18 overall, and only scoring 16 points.
The Bucks’ losing streak only stuck at one, as they bounced back in a big way on Sunday against the Sacramento Kings, who entered the game on a five-game win streak.
Milwaukee blew out Sacramento 144-109 and set franchise-records in both threes made and taken, 22 and 56, respectively. Out of the Bucks who played, 11 of the 13 hit at least one three-pointer, another indication of Mike Budenholzer’s transformation of the team. Additionally, eight Bucks finished in double figures.
Above all else, though, this was Giannis’ game. The Greek Freak posted an MVP-like 26 point, 15 rebound, and 11 assist triple-double, punctuated by an absurd poster dunk over Kosta Koufos (see below). He posted his impressive stat line in only 30 minutes of play and taking only 11 shots, accruing a game-high +39 plus-minus.
W – Bucks 124, Raptors 109
L – Celtics 117, Bucks 113
W – Bucks 144, Kings 109
For the majority of the first two weeks of the season, it didn’t feel like Giannis had arrived. Sure, he was averaging 25 points and over 14 rebounds per game. But he was also getting into foul trouble, turning the ball over often, and didn’t have many of his customary plays that force you to employ a forklift to remove your jaw from the floor.
That all changed during week three. In his two appearances, Giannis was a force to be reckoned with, generating highlight after highlight and giving the defense fits almost every time he had the ball. He was also steadfast on the defensive end, accumulating a 94.7 defensive rating, good for second-best on the team.
Seeing Giannis return to top form was enchanting, and provided a sense that will hopefully persist throughout the rest of the season.
Biggest surprise: Tony Snell’s return to consistent play and a boost from the bench
On top of being a professional athlete, Tony Snell spends his time perfecting his craft as a magician. For minutes at a time, Snell has a knack for becoming completely invisible during basketball games.
His most exquisite disappearing-act came in February of 2017, when, in over 28 minutes, Snell failed to log a single point, rebound, assist, steal, or block during a game.
Fortunately, Snell’s contribution during week three was both apparent to the eye and positive. He made 7-of-8 threes, shot 84.6 percent from the floor, and owned a team-best 35.4 net rating.
It was certainly clear that the Bucks were better with Snell on the floor in these past three games. Here’s to hoping that trend continues.
Most notable team statistic of the week: Franchise-record 22 three-pointers made vs. Sacramento
Honorable mention: Allowing 54.5 percent opponent field goal percent within 5 feet of the basket (second-best in league)
Most notable player statistic of the week: Tony Snell’s 35.4 net rating
Bucks’ Roster Aggregate Power Rankings
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Last week: 1)
2. Khris Middleton (2)
3. Malcolm Brogdon (5)
4. Eric Bledsoe (4)
5. Ersan Ilyasova (6)
6. Brook Lopez (3)
7. Tony Snell (9)
8. Donte DiVincenzo (8)
9. Pat Connaughton (10)
10. John Henson (7)
11. Thon Maker (13)
12. Matthew Dellavedova (11)
13. Sterling Brown (12)
14. Christian Wood (14)
15. D.J. Wilson (15)
Top 5 plays of week three:
5. An emphatic Giannis block leads to a Middleton three on the other end
4. Giannis with a smooth spin and dunk on Gordon Hayward
3. Giannis with back-to-back dunks
2. John Henson posterizes Delon Wright with a nasty put-back dunk
1. Giannis puts fellow Greek Kosta Koufos on a poster with a ridiculous hook dunk
Beginning on Tuesday, the Bucks embarked on a four-game road trip against several of the best teams the Western Conference has to offer. The trip will be a great litmus test for Milwaukee that could further establish the team’s contender status or expose them as pretenders unable to stack up against the superior West.