Bucks

Bucks Affirm League-Wide Dominance with Win Over Lakers

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The Bucks hosted the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night in one of the most intriguing matchups of the 2019-20 season thus far. Billed as a potential NBA Finals preview, Giannis and the Bucks took the court in front of a wild crowd at the sold-out Fiserv Forum.

Behind a career-best five threes from Giannis, a massive game off the bench from George Hill and some clutch stops down the stretch, the Bucks defeated the Lakers 111-104 in a game the Bucks dominated after a sluggish start for both teams.

We were fortunate to have been in the building for the “taking the crown” game, as some are calling it (we think that might be a little extreme for a regular-season game). But after a huge Bucks win, beating up on LeBron and Anthony Davis, we thought we’d share the most memorable moments and performances from Fiserv.

GEORGE HILL IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD 

George Hill — as we wrote about last week — has been incredible for the Bucks this season. This should come as no surprise, but Hill showed up in a huge way again last night. While Hill’s 21 points off the bench were a nice boost for the Bucks, the timing of his first scoring spurt off the bench was potentially the most important highlight of the game for Milwaukee.

After a very slow start for both teams, Hill entered the game at the 5:57 mark of the first quarter. Just a few seconds later, the veteran knocked down his first three of the night on an assist from Giannis. Less than 30 seconds later, Hill drained another big three off of a pass from Khris Middleton to give the Bucks a 17-12 lead. Hill’s energy and shot-making were huge for the Bucks, just as it has been for the entire season.

In 27 minutes of action off of the bench, Hill made timely shots, knocked down his free throws, provided a steady hand at point guard and gave the Bucks exactly what they needed, at the moments when they most needed it.

BUILDING THE WALL TO STOP GIANNIS — NO MORE

Let’s start by saying this strategy isn’t going to work anymore. Last year, teams across the league aimed to stop Giannis by building a wall across the free-throw line, denying the MVP access to the rim. With his shooting struggles last year, this put Giannis in a difficult spot against defenses that he hadn’t seen before.

This year, things have changed. And we saw that on full display last night. Giannis made a career-high five threes on eight attempts against the Lakers and did so with supreme confidence and rhythm. Walking into deep threes of the bounce has never been a Giannis thing, but it is now.

NBA talking heads all across the league have always said that if Giannis finds a way to improve on his three-point shooting, or even just looks competent on a few attempts each game, the rest of the league is in serious trouble. Leaving the arena last night, we couldn’t help but think that the “trouble” is here. Just take a look for yourself.

ANTHONY DAVIS IS ABSOLUTELY DOMINANT

The Bucks did a great job defending LeBron James and his bad shooting night helped make that a little easier.

But Anthony Davis showed the Milwaukee fans why he’s a perennial MVP candidate. In 43 minutes on a bad ankle, Davis dropped 36 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Perhaps most impressive was his touch around the rim and his ability to finish through contact in a number of different ways. At times, the body control shown by Davis reminded us of Kyrie Irving and his wizardry at the rim, but in the body of a 7-footer.

On top of that, Davis showed his ability to handle the ball in traffic, his defensive prowess with three blocks and his power and athleticism with this dunk in transition over Giannis.

There’s no doubt that the Lakers are one of the best teams in the NBA, but there should be questions about who their best player actually is.

THE BUCKS ARE SO DEEP

This isn’t a surprise to anyone reading this. If you follow Milwaukee Bucks basketball, then you know that the team is stacked and the bench is extremely productive. Hill, Connaughton, Brown, Ilyasova, Korver and everyone else off the bench are capable of making big-time plays in crunch time. This stood out even more last night because of the lack of depth from the visiting Lakers.

It’s this simple; the Bucks got 34 points from their bench, while the Lakers got 4. That’s it— 4 points from the bench. Against a team with such firepower on offense like the Bucks, even the dominant Lakers will have a tough time winning with just a few points from their bench, regardless of the efforts from LeBron and Anthony Davis.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

A few other moments stood out last night at Fiserv Forum:

  • Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas met at half-court prior to introductions and it seemed to be a very special moment for the brothers.
  • Middleton, as much as people want to bash him for his huge contract, makes clutch shots and can get a bucket in isolation when you really need one. In the mid-post, he’s incredibly difficult to stop and we hope people appreciate that.
  • Brook Lopez makes things very difficult for opponents at the rim, regardless of his production on offense each night. This can’t be understated. When battling with a lengthy team like the Lakers, Brook, as well as Robin, are hugely impactful on defense.
  • Giannis made his free throws in the fourth quarter. We don’t really need to elaborate on this one.
  • Wes Mathews made some HUGE shots down the stretch and his effort on defense against LeBron was fantastic. He’s someone the Bucks can trust.

Overall, it was an awesome night for the Bucks and an incredible playoff-like atmosphere in the arena. The national attention that we’ve all been asking for is finally here and the Bucks showed no signs of shying away from a huge regular-season moment against LeBron, Anthony Davis and the Lakers.

To end it, we’ll just leave this here for your viewing pleasure:

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About Sam Radbil

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