|J. Parker 37 MIN | 8-16 FG | 0-1 3FG | 6-7 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | -6 +/-
Once again, Parker put together a strong stat line doing what he does best: Finishing in transition, hanging out on the baseline for timely cuts, getting to the rim (and the free throw line) off the dribble, and finishing strong at said rim.
While his best move is probably still a basic jab step, Parker’s first step is quick enough to get around larger defenders, and he had success drawing contact against Boston’s bigs. Per usual, Parker had a few highlight dunk shots, including this alley-oop from Khris Middleton in the fourth.
In much sadder news, Parker missed a three late in the fourth quarter during desperation time. He’s now 0-9 on the season.
|G. Antetokounmpo 31 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-5 FT | 7 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -14 +/-
Due in part to a pair of first quarter fouls, Giannis played only 31 minutes, his fewest since playing 28 back on Jan. 23 against the Pelicans. It’s tough to say that caused him to fall out of rhythm, but he didn’t look completely comfortable shooting the ball, as evidenced by an airballed free throw and mid-range jumper within the span of a few minutes in the third quarter.
After attempting at least 16 shots in each of the last four games, Giannis played more of a facilitating role Thursday, finishing with eight assists, giving him 18 combined over the last two contests. All six of his field goals came in the painted area – where he’s shooting better than 60 percent on the season – breaking a steak of nine straight games with a three-point attempt.
We didn’t get Monday’s version of Giannis – or rather, playing-against-the-Lakers-version of Giannis – but the all-around play was certainly still on display. Even with the jumpshot failing to fall, Giannis is finding ways to make an impact, whether it’s as a passer or a rim-protector.
I said on the podcast earlier this season that Giannis raising his floor was more important than raising his ceiling, and I think he’s done just that over the past month or so. He’s scored at least 14 points in 17 of the last 19 games, with off nights becoming increasingly rare.
|M. Plumlee 14 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -9 +/-
Started, played 14 minutes, grabbed a rebound, blocked a Jared Sullinger shot, finished a layup, and made 3-of-4 free throws. Not much to report, as Monroe once again saw most of the run at center.
|O.J. Mayo 20 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-3 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -2 +/-
Mayo rimmed out on a couple of open corner threes, but got one to fall early in the fourth for his only basket of the game. He struggled, at times, to contain Isaiah Thomas and isn’t of much use as an alternative to Carter-Williams on most nights if his outside shot isn’t falling.
|K. Middleton 42 MIN | 8-15 FG | 1-4 3FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTS | -5 +/-
He’s been up-and-down in February (36% FG), but Middleton rebounded after two lackluster games to get back over 20 points for the fourth time in six games. He hit only one three, but it was a big one, cutting the Celtics lead to eight with 3:21 remaining. The three spurred a Bucks mini-surge after Boston had gone on a quick, 6-0 run with a MCW turnover bookended by a pair of threes from Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas.
Like Antetokounmpo, Middleton continues to progress as a passer, and he’s averaging more than six assists over the last five games. That facet of his game has become increasingly important given his recent shooting struggles. After Thursday’s 1-of-5 performance, Middleton is shooting just 31.7 percent from three in nine February games.
|J. O’Bryant III 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -7 +/-
Three fouls in four minutes. JOB continues to foul at an all-world level.
|S. Novak 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-3 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +11 +/-
The prodigal son notched his first points in a Bucks uniform on a difficult, turnaround three late in the game as the Bucks desperately tried to narrow the deficit. It doesn’t look as though Novak will be used for extended stretches, but Kidd is already comfortable running him out in short spurts to hunt perimeter looks.
|G. Monroe 34 MIN | 9-13 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | +4 +/-
Monroe came out with six points in the first quarter but was a virtual non-factor for the next two periods. He was held scoreless in the second and third quarters, attempting only three shots as the Bucks fell behind by 15 entering the fourth.
It was a different story over the final 15 minutes, however, as Monroe began the fourth quarter with seven points in the first 3:09 of play. He also blocked an Amir Johnson shot attempt and assisted on a Mayo three during the span, and another Monroe basket with 7:18 remaining sliced the Boston lead to just seven.
Monroe finished with 11 points in the fourth quarter, ending the night with 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. It was the 12th time this season Monroe has recorded double-digit blocks.
|T. Ennis 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +2 +/-
Finished a layup, handed out an assist to Vaughn for a corner three in five minutes of second-quarter action and that was that.
|M. Carter-Williams 33 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-2 3FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -4 +/-
Carter-Williams came out aggressively in the first half, entering the break with 10 points, but his lone basket after halftime came via a layup midway through the third quarter. Jason Kidd pulled him in favor of Mayo with just under three minutes to play in the third, but Carter-Williams returned early in the fourth and played the rest of the way.
He finished with three turnovers, the third of which came on a play in which he simply fumbled the ball off of his leg and out of bounds. The Celtics, who had hit a three (Bradley) to extend the lead from five to eight on the previous possession, responded with another three (Thomas) and a five-point deficit ballooned to 11 in a matter of seconds.
|R. Vaughn 13 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +5 +/-
Hit a catch-and-shoot three from the corner midway throughout the second quarter. As Marques Johnson illustrated on the telecast, Vaughn did a nice job of shaking Avery Bradley with a jab step off the ball to create space and get the shot off. The rookie is just one of his last 11 from three, so it’s good to see his confidence hasn’t necessarily waned.
Three Things We Saw
- The Celtics had 18 fastbreak points in first half and just two in the second. Credit to the Bucks for adjusting to the pace.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo and Amir Johnson both airballed free throws in this game, but Giannis also airballed a jumper so take that, Amir.
- The Bucks might not be a drastically better overall team than they were two months ago, but they’re a more resilient team. Milwaukee trailed by mid-double-digits several times throughout the game Thursday, including early in the 4th quarter. The Bucks fought back to bring the game within five; then, after a quick 6-0 Celtics’ run, Milwaukee responded with a defense-fueled 7-0 run to slice the deficit back to four with just over a minute to play. Unfortunately for the Bucks, Isaiah Thomas is good at basketball and made a ridiculous, mid-air, behind-the-head (three adjectives!) pass to Jae Crowder for a corner three that would prove to be the final dagger. Regardless, with Boston leading by as much as 18 in the third quarter, this is a game in which the December edition of the Bucks probably allow Thomas and Crowder to comfortably sit most of the fourth. The Bucks haven’t quite learned how to thrive in pressure situations, but they’ve improved in their ability to avoid allowing mistakes to compound.