Bucks Lead

3 Things We Learned From Bucks-Bulls

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After bouncing to the best start in franchise history, the Bucks had dropped two of three. Although the Bulls had a much smarter game plan than in the first Forum meeting, Khris Middleton‘s three allowed the deer to escape 116-113. A more modest crowd than usual stomped home satisfied, but three things stand out as key to remembering as the quest for a top four seed becomes more serious and difficult.

1. Score is mostly distraction

Now this is a hard lesson to learn! Don’t we all want to win that NBA2K game 200-0? The more points the better, right? Don’t the Bucks lead the league with 120 points a game? Sure enough, they do! But this isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the point. Fans who saunter into the new arena can have the cataracts of fancy graphics and hype tweet trains removed. Basketball is fundamentally five players against five players. That’s it. The Bucks had it quite easy in the November 16th meeting, blowing by the fatigued Bulls in the second half. But, to Fred Hoiberg‘s credit, the Bulls played at a slower underdog’s pace Wednesday. Giannis led the latest victory with 36 points and did so primarily with patience.

Of course, as Ted Davis observed, Giannis can take some big steps. But he took what the defense gave him as the Bucks eased past an undermanned opponent who never blinked. The Bucks won the staring contest by looking at form, not score.

2. This season is a fight

Wow, wasn’t it great when the Bucks were winning every game by 30? Sadly, very few teams can blow everyone out through June. In fact, the 2016 Warriors blew everyone out through June and still didn’t win it all. The Bucks now aim to wipe away opponents in the same manner: with an avalanche of threes. With every night hosting a different hero, this time it was Malcolm Brogdon‘s, aka The President, time with 6-of-6 three point shooting.

The Bucks lead the league with 14.5 threes a game, but there have been some cold swings lately. Giannis’s crew certainly hasn’t stopped playing hard. However, the team may be forced to pace itself more slowly to avoid wild momentum swings (as seen in Charlotte). Most important is leaving the best for the spring, so hopefully the following months are focused on improving performance details in addition to earning wins.

3. Khris Middleton is really, really clutch

OK, this one’s cheating. We all knew this already! Didn’t he already beat the Heat in the wildest winner in team history?

And he would have already beaten Phoenix earlier this season were it not for some silly little technicality.

In a repeat of the Heat performance, Money Middleton coolly hit the winner after a volleyball-tip became a back-tap, then an unselfish Brogdon pass.

But should fans be worried if every game comes down to the last shot? The Bucks can’t win every two point game, right? Well, maybe not every one. As seen in skiing and track, sometimes the difference between the best and mediocre is a second or two. But there can still be a huge gap in talent and desire! Clearly the red carpet won’t be rolled out for a parade to a top seed. But why buy a cheesy super-team when the Bucks’ money player can sell out the NBA’s best arena at the price of a wrist’s flick?

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About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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