Giannis came to play: Thunder 101-Bucks 85
|Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 36 MIN | 3-14 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -12
Middleton started the game in place of Ridnour. Larry Drew wanted to counter the size of the number one rebounding team in the NBA with a super-lengthy, tall starting lineup of his own. He also wanted to a defender against Durant.
I don’t want to put down Middleton because he gives a lot of good effort, but I need to start speaking out against the idea that he’s a good defender. He doesn’t work around screens well. Even when there isn’t a screen, he’s not particularly great at staying in front of a guy who wants to get to the basket. But he puts forth good effort and can put a hand out when a guy is taking a jumper.
|Larry Sanders, C Shot Chart 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -7
Sanders was ejected after elbowing Steven Adams in the face. I’ve been there before – when I can either let something slide, but instead I decide to make the malicious decision that hurts myself and others. I empathize with Sanders a lot. I used to have a lot of anger problems. In some ways, I still do, but I’ve more or less have my anger issues under control. I put years of work into doing that and I had help. I also don’t have the weight of a franchise and the expectations of a fanbase on my shoulders. It’s another incident in a very long season for Sanders. There will be more.
|Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 35 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -18
Without Ridnour in the starting lineup, Knight wasn’t able to get the rest of the offense going to start the game. This isn’t particularly surprising to most people. But he looked good in the second half. When the Thunder went small, Knight was able to take advantage and slice through the defense for some lay-ups.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 38 MIN | 5-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 13 PTS | -10
This is about six points and some polish away from what the ideal Antetokounmpo performance looks like. He made some great cuts and lovely drives (blew past Ibaka at one point). He passed up good shots to set up great shots for his team. Plus, he had fire. Durant is Antetokounmpo’s favorite player and today he showed that he wanted to belong and could belong in the same league as Durant.
|Miroslav Raduljica, C Shot Chart 17 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -8
I just like the way that Raduljica dives to the basket after setting a screen. He’s not fast, but there’s so much weight behind him that no one bothers to get in his way. The Thunder left the intimidating big man open for a few easy buckets tonight.
All I really want from Drew is for him to give Antetokounmpo 30+ minutes a game. He got 38 tonight, so I’m happy.
Two Things We Saw
- The Bucks started the game missing their first ten shots. Including their scoreless stretch the end their game against the Chicago Bulls, the Bucks had a streak where they went 0-21.
- Antetokounmpo was guarding Durant at one point. He got held up by a screen above the three point line. Durant blew past and Antetokounmpo was about four steps behind him. Easy shot for Durant, right? NOPE. Giannis flies in from behind and swats him into the stratosphere.