That’s why the game was played: Bucks 108 – Warriors 95 (!?)

Golden State Warriors 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
108 Milwaukee Bucks
Jabari Parker, PF 28 MIN | 9-14 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-3 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +10 +/-

Twice, Parker launched long jumpers that I thought were threes, but both time they were long twos. Sigh. But there’s no reason to complain about Jabari’s game on Saturday night. He was great at positioning himself around the rim, and he cut backdoor on Draymond Green a couple of times for easy baskets. Three or four of his baskets came in transition too, where he’s been a great finisher all season.

Milwaukee got rolling in the fourth quarter and didn’t go back to Jabari. It didn’t seem like it had anything to do with him playing bad or his minute limit, rather it just seemed like Kidd was sticking with the guys who were taking the game over.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 43 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-2 3FG | 2-3 FT | 12 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 11 PTS | +3 +/-

He functioned as the centerpiece of Milwaukee’s offense in the first half, and it worked out brilliantly. He was hitting jumpers and finding teammates and he occasionally even brought the ball up the court. The second unit blew a big lead as the first quarter wound down, but once Giannis joined them and the second quarter started they were highly functional.

The second half was a different story. The Warriors stuck Andre Iguodala on Giannis and last year’s Finals MVP was able to neutralize him. Giannis air balled a fadeaway jumper from the elbow and was stripped going up one possession later. After nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the first half, Giannis had just two points, four rebounds and three assists in the second half. Still not too bad, but he did seem to take a back seat to MCW and Monroe.

Greg Monroe, C 36 MIN | 11-16 FG | 0-0 3FG | 6-7 FT | 11 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 28 PTS | +17 +/-

Maybe this wasn’t the greatest game of Monroe’s career, but it has to be up there, given the opponent and situation.

Throughout the first half, Monroe was able to get great position against Andrew Bogut, and he took advantage with 11 points early. Often Monroe starts strong and fades as the game goes on and it seemed like more of the same in this one, as Bogut was able to turn the tables a bit in the third quarter. The former Bucks big started to challenge, block and strip Monroe more often after halftime. But Monroe rallied late.

When the Warriors went small down the stretch in the fourth quarter, Milwaukee went to Monroe over and over. He responded with strong passing when he caught at the elbow or had defenders double team him. And when the Warriors covered him one-on-one with Draymond Green, he took advantage of the matchup and scored over the smaller defender.

Khris Middleton, SG 38 MIN | 3-12 FG | 1-4 3FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +13 +/-

After scoring very well against the Raptors on Friday night, Middleton was much more of a complimentary player on Saturday. Even without his jump shot falling, he was still a factor defensively and as a quick ball-mover.

O.J. Mayo, SG 29 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-8 3FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +6 +/-

Against a team that can break a game open as fast as the Warriors can, it was crucial to any chance of success the Bucks had that Mayo was making threes. He started strong, going 3-3 in the first quarter, but he faded as the game went on, finishing just 4-8.

Fortunately for the Bucks, the Warriors struggled badly from deep, making just 6-26 3FGs. They didn’t need Mayo to get hot again after the first quarter and found other ways to score. Mayo was effective at chasing around Steph Curry throughout the night. Curry regularly makes impossible shots, so Mayo’s job was just to try and make him work hard, which he seemed to succeed at.

John Henson, PF 12 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -4 +/-

Milwaukee’s bench unit lost a lot of an early lead, but Henson wasn’t to blame. He and Giannis stabilized the group as the second quarter started, working together to combine for three buckets. He basically played Festus Ezeli to a draw, which is no small feat considering how Ezeli has impressed this season. His second half minutes weren’t quite as strong and his foul trouble combined with Monroe’s strong play led to Monroe getting more minutes than usual.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 14 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +2 +/-

In the second quarter, when he missed a layup attempt in transition, and the Warriors transitioned off the rebound, it was a very JOB sequence. He’s had trouble finishing at the rim all year and then Ezeli made a layup through a foul. It illustrated a huge gap between O’Bryant and the Warrior bigs. He was the only Bucks player who looked bad all game long though he did make a jump shot in the fourth quarter.

And he’s never bad for a lack of effort, which is a credit to him. It’s easy to give up when things aren’t going your way and he never seens to do that.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 30 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-0 3FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +22 +/-

After a first half that didn’t much move the needle, Carter-Williams made a bunch of key shots for Milwaukee in the second half. He finished in the paint over and over, even when the Warriors defended him well. This will never seem like a sustainable strategy for success, but it’s probably what Milwaukee’s always envisioned as a peak scenario for Carter-Williams – him using his size to get up tough shots and finish them against defending guards.

His “five steals” weren’t really him getting out there for five steals. Three times the ball fell into his hands. Twice he caused the turnover, but both of those steals were in desperation minutes for Golden State. He’s good at forcing turnovers sometimes, but his stats were padded in this one.

Rashad Vaughn, SG 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4 +/-

He wasn’t much of a difference maker in a lengthy second quarter run, but he again showed iffy awareness on a breakaway foul that gave Green an extra point on a dunk. It was simply too soft of a foul and he has to make a decision one way or the other in the future on that sort of play.

Jason Kidd

This is the rotation. The Bucks beat the Warriors, so they should probably play these nine games in every game the rest of the season for this exact number of minutes. It’s obviously the peak Bucks rotation. Okay, swap JOB out for Damien Inglis and throw in some more minutes for Jabari. And then find a way to work in Vasquez and Bayless. Maybe this isn’t as simple as I’m thinking.

But if this group can get rolling, if MCW can keep playing strong off the bench and if this starting lineup keeps clicking, Kidd is going to have some interesting decisions to make in his backcourt.

Three Things We Saw

  1. In their last game at home against the Clippers, Milwaukee did a bad job of getting back after made shots in transition and that afforded LA some easy opportunities. Jason Kidd wasn’t happy about it after the game, taking the time to specifically rant about it. He must have addressed it with his team because the Bucks got back on defense with much better energy. After one transition basket, Middleton, who had assisted the layup, ran from baseline to baseline to block a Curry layup. The Warriors got the rebound the score eventually anyway, but the energy to combat was there. That’s the kind of focus and energy it takes to win when one of the greatest teams of all time comes into town.
  2. Golden State’s bench is a riot. They danced on made layups. They danced on 3-pointers. They danced on dunks. Each basket had a reaction of its own and all of the reactions were fun to watch. After a Brandon Rush dunk that forced a Bucks timeout the ENTIRE BENCH sprinted out to half court to celebrate.
  3. What was excited about this Bucks win was how they won. It was an improbable win for sure. You may have heard that the Warriors won their last 24 games before coming to Milwaukee. But it wasn’t like the Bucks transformed overnight into a different team. In fact, it didn’t seem that they did anything outside of themselves at all. Milwaukee played with great energy and rode a stronger than usual performance from Greg Monroe, but it isn’t like they hit a bunch of fluke threes or saw one player get especially hot in a way he wouldn’t be able to again. This was not Jared Dudley going 10-10 against the Hawks last year. This was more about everyone on the Bucks doing their job to the best of their ability. Every player on the Bucks was the best version of himself on Saturday night, which made the Bucks the best version of the Bucks.

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6 Comments

  1. What a great win for the Bucks. They seem to come together for the harder teams. Of the Bucks could play like this every night they would be hard to beat. Congrats to Giannis for his first triple double I doubt it will be his last too.

  2. Really excited to see Parker start to hit his jumpers over these last few games. That’s gonna change the offense so much. Also, enough of JOB. A near 7 footer shooting in the mid 30’s from the field is pathetic. The experiment is over, time to move on.

    • Totally agree with the whole JOB thing. Instead of trying him out why don’t we use a little more of Damien Inglis

      • Right? At least Inglis knows how to control his legs well enough to run and jump. JOB just stumbled around and constantly hangs his head and mopes around, even after something positive.

  3. The Moose among Deer!
    Monroe was phenomenal in that fourth quarter. I didn’t get to watch the game due to annoying blackout rules on NBA league pass, but Ted Davis was amazing to listen to on radio and really called the game in a great way to get me pumped. Giannis with his first triple double, Monroe with a season high, Parker with a season high, and giving Golden State their first loss. What. A. Game. I only wish I would have gone because it sounded loud in there on the radio.