|Khris Middleton, SF 39 MIN | 6-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | -2 +/-
After a string of mediocre performances to begin the season, Middleton had probably his best overall game thus far. His shot selection was somewhat iffy – at one point he passed up an open three-point look to back down Markel Brown and throw up a wild shot – but he also connected on a couple of tough looks, including a smooth fadeaway jumper to put the Bucks ahead for good with less than two minutes to play. Defensively, Middleton was solid, helping to hold Joe Johnson to a 5-of-14 shooting night.
Five three-point attempts feels like a good number for Middleton, on most nights. He’s attempted 17 threes through the first four games, up from 10 through the first four games of last season. Small sample size, of course, but an encouraging sign nonetheless.
At the end of the first half, the Bucks ran a quick play to get Middleton free for an open look on the wing. Following a Nets made basket, Jerryd Bayless received the inbounds pass with five seconds left and sprinted directly toward Middleton, who was standing in the corner on the opposite side of the court. Bayless dropped the ball off to Middleton and set a quick screen, freeing him up for about as wide open a look as you’ll see in that situation. Middleton’s three rimmed out, but it was nice recognition by both players late in the clock.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 42 MIN | 8-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 21 PTS | +2 +/-
Three games, three 20-point nights for Giannis. He had only seven 20-point games all of last season, but what’s perhaps most encouraging is he’s shooting 58% from the floor on more than 14 attempts per game. And that percentage would be a few points higher had Giannis not missed a few really easy bunnies Monday.
He’s also knocked down a three in each game thus far while shooting 3-of-7 overall from deep. Even over an extremely small sample size, that’s a massive improvement over where he finished last season, and his confidence is noticeably higher. Giannis connected on his first attempt midway through the first quarter, and he had an open look rim out near the end of the half.
Giannis is typically good for a handful of Vine-worthy plays, and most of those came in the second quarter. He fed Johnny O’Bryant with a crafty baseline pass, crossed up Bojan Bogdanovic for a layup, and finished a fast break with a smooth gyrostep and dunk. Giannis also put the final nail in the Nets’ coffin with a block on Jarrett Jack late in the 4th.
|Greg Monroe, C 39 MIN | 10-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 23 PTS | +13 +/-
Milwaukee may still be figuring out how to integrate a legitimate low-post scoring threat into its offense, but Monroe’s ability to back down and finish around the rim is a nice luxury to have. He scored the Bucks’ first two baskets of the game and came up with big shots on back-to-back possessions late in the fourth, both of which tied the game.
Monroe also got back on track from a rebounding perspective, securing 13 boards after collecting only 11 over the last two games combined. Though he finished with just one assist, a season low, Monroe’s ability as a passer is obvious, with his head always seeming to be on a swivel when he catches in the mid-range.
|Michael Carter-Williams, PG 23 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +8 +/-
Weird game for Carter-Williams. He played only 23 minutes and took just three shots, by far a season low after attempting 39 over the first three games. For the most part, he was under control, and he found ways to contribute outside of scoring, finishing with five assists, two blocks, three steals and a pair of rebounds. He also made arguably the biggest defensive play of the game, chasing down Bojan Bogdanovic from behind and stealing the ball with the game tied late in the fourth quarter. Khris Middleton would hit the go-ahead jumper on the ensuing Bucks possession.
Carter-Williams made a few questionable passes, and his lone miss of the game came on a drive most point guards probably finish with relative ease, but on the whole he did more to help the Bucks than hurt the Bucks. Regardless, Jason Kidd rolled with Greivis Vasquez and Jerryd Bayless for much of the second half. Bayless, played all but 79 seconds, while Vasquez checked in for MCW midway through the third and remained in the game until MCW returned at the 4:58 mark of the fourth quarter.
Carter-Williams appeared to suffer an ankle injury late in the game, but it doesn’t look to be anything overly serious.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 47 MIN | 8-15 FG | 4-7 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 26 PTS | +11 +/-
The Jerryd Bayless Game comes early this year. The Bucks kicked JOB out of the starting lineup Monday, inserting Bayless in the backcourt alongside Carter-Williams. As noted above, Bayless came out of the game for 1:19 in the first quarter then played the remainder of the game. He hit a three on Milwaukee’s third possession of the game and had four made threes by the nine-minute mark of the second quarter. Bayless finished with six threes on the night, tying his career high. His 26 points were his most since he put up 29 as a member of the Celtics in Feb. 2014.
|Chris Copeland, SF 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0 +/-
Copeland played only five seconds, entering for Miles Plumlee between a pair of Jarrett Jack free throws at the end of the first quarter. After Jack made the second attempt, the Bucks inbounded to Middleton, who missed a desperation heave at the buzzer. And that was that for Copeland. It’s somewhat of an odd development considering he played 21 minutes Sunday in Toronto and had connected on 6-of-11 three-point attempts through three games. That said, he’s been close to a disaster defensively, which was likely the motivation behind the near-DNP.
|Miles Plumlee, C 6 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PTS | -5 +/-
Plumlee and Greivis Vasquez entered as the first two players off the bench at the 4:05 mark of the first quarter with the score knotted at 23. Within 42 seconds, Plumlee committed two fouls on back-to-back possessions resulting in and-ones for Brook Lopez and Jarrett Jack. He went on to commit three turnovers within 1:43 of game time in the third quarter. I was not impressed.
|Johnny O’Bryant III, C 17 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +13 +/-
I’ve dogged JOB as much as anyone over the last year, but he looked like a legitimate NBA player for most of his 17 minutes AND finished with a plus-13 rating, tied with Greg Monroe for the team high. Did he get worked by Thaddeus Young on defense a couple of times? Maybe, but we’ll let that slide for tonight.
|Greivis Vasquez, PG 27 MIN | 0-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -5 +/-
Vasquez’s shooting woes – he’s now 6-of-28 from the field this season – continued, but he racked up eight assists in 27 minutes on a night when Jason Kidd seemed to trust him over Carter-Williams for much of the second half. The shooting will come around eventually, but an 0-of-8 dud was salvaged by Bayless’ big night. Speaking of those two, they hooked up for an alley-oop in the second quarter with an assist from Brook Lopez’s help defense.
Four Things We Saw
- Telly Hughes interviewed Bill Freakin’ Clinton during halftime. The former President is apparently buddies with Mark Lasry and was seated courtside with the Bucks’ part-owner. Telly obviously nailed the interview, and Clinton even called Sidney Moncrief his “best friend.” There was definitely some context added to that comment, but I’m going to go ahead and assume they’re actually best friends until proven otherwise.
- This wasn’t so much something we saw as much as something we heard: Gus Johnson called Andrea Bargnani “Barnyarni” for the entire game, which was fun.
- There was a pickle delay in the fourth quarter. I repeat: There was a pickle delay.
- The Bucks had 22 made field goals at the half Monday after having just 29 total makes against the Raptors on Sunday.