Bruised Bucks Stumble Against Improving Wolves


Man is often an overconfident animal.

Not our Bucks, of course, who rarely take a game for granted– but many NBA fans write off past pretenders too early.

Wednesday in Milwaukee, the 2-1 Wolves, coming off a loss to lowly New Orleans, tested the undermanned Deer. A relaxed Fiserv crowd enjoyed a 40-point performance by Giannis Antetokounmpo but had its endgame hopes dashed by a developing franchise tired of moral victories.

With months remaining before the playoffs, Milwaukee must regroup and recover its champion’s heart if they are to return to glory.

Is The Scoreboard Broken?

Minnesota bit swiftly, took a 4-0 lead, and quickly built a massive cushion. Per Timberwolves TV (as relayed by Bucks Radio’s Justin Garcia), Wednesday became the first Fiserv Forum game where the Bucks never led.

True, Brook Lopez (back) and Jrue Holiday (ankle) couldn’t play. Milwaukeeans still had concerns about on-the-court play, however. Bobby Portis made his not-a-second-too-soon return from a hamstring injury; however, he needs time to work back to 100%. Portis shot 3/7 and 0/3 from three, often missing widely.

(Come on, Bucks fans, only a golf clap for his first bucket back?)

Most disappointing to this fan was Khris Middleton‘s uneven play. Middleton made his career largely from taking advantage of pro-offense whistles, contorting his body perfectly to secure free throws. Two concerns inhibited his excellence, however.

First, Middleton seemed to take his selling too far, focusing too much on impressing referees and not enough on his already awesome skillset. Second, the NBA changed rule emphases this season, making it more challenging for players to draw defensive fouls. Middleton became frustrated by a lack of calls, allowing his focus to slip.

One outcome especially shocked Bucks World: the Greek Freak…..tired???

Giannis Shrugged

In Ayn Rand’s controversial novel Atlas Shrugged, the most talented business people in America all walk off the job, tired of being used by the less talented. It startled Wisconsinites equally to see the seemingly indefatigable Antetokounmpo sitting on the scorer’s table with a minute remaining and the surging Bucks only down four. The weight of carrying a city’s 50-year championship yearning pressure, for a moment, proved too much.

Observe his last play (2:41): the Freak had just enough awesomeness to keep the Deer in the game.

The whippings of 29 vicious foes and unrelenting pressure from cruel pundits may have forced Giannis to the sidelines. But at the risk of hand-waving away legitimate disappointment, fans must keep perspective.

One fan opined, “it’s just preseason; the season doesn’t start until December.” Too dismissive? Consider the purpose of basketball for the 99% of players who don’t make the NBA. It’s a learning experience, a way to become the most unselfish teammate one can be while discovering their true, assertive selves.

Winning counts a lot in the NBA, but as long as Milwaukee finishes in the top six, the franchise can take time to adjust to a retooled roster.

Giannis, exhausted by a whirlwind 2021, uncharacteristically faltered Wednesday. Did the Wolves break the Freak’s spirit?

No such luck for our neighbors; Giannis won’t stop until he reaches the Elysian field of glory, acres away from October’s transitory disappointment.

Follow us on Twitter @BucksLead for the latest Bucks news and insight. 

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About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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