The win is just a bonus: Bucks 117 – Hawks 109

Milwaukee 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Atlanta
J. Parker 51 MIN | 11-21 FG | 0-0 3FG | 6-7 FT | 13 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 28 PTS | +18 +/-It’s been a ton of fun to see Jabari post career-high point totals in back-to-back games. The work he’s done on the baseline over the past two games has been amazing. When he catches near the hoop, he can get off the floor and finish very quickly, even if he has to power through a defender trying to block his shot. His teammates found him over and over when they drove to the basket and needed an outlet. Typically that’s the only way Parker scores his points, but he was able to finish through some contact on a few drives against Atlanta as well, including one very tough finish in the first overtime with the Bucks down three and about a minute and some change to play.

The Bucks also looked to post him up a few times on Kyle Korver, which didn’t lead to a ton of great results, but demonstrated their commitment to trying to get him the ball in advantageous situations. Given that he wasn’t making many (just one) jump shots, it’s incredible to see him tally 28 points and shoot pretty efficiently. Very encouraging night.

G. Antetokounmpo 38 MIN | 8-17 FG | 0-1 3FG | 3-4 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 5 TO | 19 PTS | +2 +/-Double-doubles are becoming a bit of a standard thing for Giannis. This double-double was his third straight and his 10th of the season, matching his total number from last season.

M. Plumlee 22 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | +4 +/-While John Henson’s been out, the Bucks haven’t lost a step. Plumlee has been able to fill at least 90% of his role. A third center as good as Plumlee is a luxury most teams can’t afford. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this off-season.

K. Middleton 48 MIN | 4-16 FG | 1-6 3FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 12 PTS | +15 +/-Even during something of a down month of February from an efficiency standpoint (36% shooting), he still draws an incredible amount of attention. The Hawks were never helping off Middleton to assist teammates, and they kept intense pressure on him all game. He wasn’t able to fight through to make many of the difficult looks he ended up getting, but he did still find ways to be productive as a passer and defender.

O.J. Mayo 38 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-5 3FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | +1 +/-This was about as well-rounded a game as Mayo’s had all season. The expectations for him are to make some 3-pointers, move the ball and end up around 10-12 points and 4-5 assists. Rebounds are a bonus and steals aren’t even a thought. But he chipped in seven rebounds and five steals, which directly led to six Bucks points.

G. Monroe 36 MIN | 10-20 FG | 0-0 3FG | 4-7 FT | 12 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 24 PTS | +4 +/-After one of the quietest nights of his career, Monroe was back on track. He was able to get in position and get looks around the rim all game long though he occasionally struggled to finish. For a guy who gets shots near the rim as much as Monroe does, he struggles to finish more than you’d expect, which may be due to his lack of athleticism.

M. Carter-Williams 38 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-3 3FG | 5-8 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -2 +/-For the first 53 minutes, he made few positive contributions and looked like the bad version of Michael Carter-Williams. The version that’s often out of control, the version that can’t make a shot, the version that doesn’t bring much to the table on the offensive end. But then he opened the second overtime with three straight baskets that, generally speaking, put the game away for the Bucks. He hit two mid-range jumpers and drove past Dennis Schroeder into the paint and finished at the rim.

It’s a make or miss league, people have said, and MCW was making shots at a crucial time for the Bucks. For the second straight night, I’ll again write that it doesn’t feel like he’s putting together performances that are much to build on, but his results have been good two games in a row.

R. Vaughn 19 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -2 +/-Vaughn remained aggressive early on, getting up all four of his shots in his second quarter minutes. He’s done a good job over the past two games of getting by opponents who are closing out too hard with a pump fake and drive. One of his assists came on a great pass after he used that pump fake and drive move to get into the paint and find Miles Plumlee.

With Vaughn, you can see the outline of a player who is improving. Now he just needs some of his 3-point attempts to start going down.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Maybe I’m exaggerating based on the last couple of nights, but it feels like the Bucks have had a problem making free throws late in close games all season. I can remember four or five specific games where the air came out of the Bradley Center when the Bucks missed an important free throw late. Against the Hornets on Saturday, Middleton missed the second of three late attempts, which came back to bite Milwaukee. And, even though they won on Saturday night, the Bucks missed two in the last 30 seconds of the fourth quarter and one in the last 20 seconds of the first overtime.
  2. Milwaukee’s short bench led by two former starters has been very productive since the lineup switch. When Mayo can be as productive as he was against the Hawks in the starting lineup, it gives Milwaukee a more balanced roster from start to finish.
  3. It’s cool the Bucks ended up with more points than the Hawks in this game, but the biggest win of the night is the strong efforts from both Giannis and Jabari. Those two figuring out not just how to play together, but how to thrive together is crucial to the Bucks future. They never seemed to be crowding each other’s space or running into each other on the way to the basket. Giannis likes attacking the hoop head on (or, at least, he’s in a position to do so most often) with the ball in his hands. Parker thrived on the baseline, reading the action and his defender, waiting for a teammate to make a move. Both of them looking like the best players on the floor at times, in consecutive games even, has to be a real treat for the whole Bucks organization.

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