Christmas Day started off rather well for the Bucks. The East’s No. 2 seed tipped off its holiday festivities with a 109-95 victory over the New York Knicks in Milwaukee’s first Christmas Day game since 1977. Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 30 points while rookie guard Kevin Knox led the way for the Knicks with 21 points.
Neither team got off to an incredibly hot start in the first half as both teams were held to under 40 percent shooting. The Bucks did connect on four of their first six field-goal attempts, but things didn’t exactly stay that way. The Knicks ended up hanging around throughout the majority of the first half and trailed by just two points at halftime. However, Milwaukee woke up in the third quarter as it outscored New York 36-22 in the frame to take control of the game. Antetokounmpo scored 17 of his 30 points over the final 24 minutes to help put things out of reach. The Bucks shot nearly 45 percent from the floor when it was all said and done. On the other hand, the Knicks shot just 36.5 percent from the field despite all five starters finishing in double figures.
Milwaukee currently holds the second seed, and, now trails the Toronto Raptors by just one game for the best record in the East, and in the NBA as a whole. Meanwhile, New York dropped its fifth consecutive game and lost for the 10th time in its last 11 games.
Here are five takeaways from the NBA Christmas Day opener:
1. Giannis dominates on big stage
The Bucks played on Christmas Day for the first time since 1977 and Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting. It was the most points scored by a Buck since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 32 points on Christmas Day in 1972. The Bucks star forward ended up dominating in all aspects of the game as he also secured 14 rebounds, recorded four steals and registered two blocks.
2. Bucks showcase balanced offense
The headlines usually start and end with Antetokounmpo, but Milwaukee turned in a very balanced effort on the offensive end. Brook Lopez turned in 20 points and shot a very efficient 50 percent from the floor. Malcolm Brogdon added 17 points while Eric Bledsoe chipped in 11 for a team that shot nearly 45 percent from the field.
3. Knicks really miss Kristaps
The Knicks shot just 36.5 percent from the field and knocked down only eight of their 28 attempts from beyond the arc. Kristaps Porzingis continues to work his way back from a torn ACL that he suffered last February. Porzingis gives an interior threat that New York can just throw the ball down to and he can impose his will.
4. Bucks’ bench produces
Milwaukee has been one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference so far this season. The team’s bench produced a solid amount in its Christmas Day win, headlined by Thon Maker chipping in 12 points. Maker connected on five of his eight field-goal attempts and has scored in double figures for the second time in three games.
5. Milwaukee struggles from downtown
The Bucks ended up playing very well on Christmas Day when it comes to the offensive end. However, the team did struggle shooting from 3 as they only drilled six of their 32 attempts from long range. No player hit multiple 3s for a team that currently ranks 18th in the NBA in terms of 3-point shooting percentage.
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