Bucks Lead

Can The Bucks Still Reach 70 Wins?

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On Greek heritage night in Milwaukee, the Bucks prepared for surely their 42nd step on the way to 70. It would clinch a winning season! Woo-hoo! Wait, don’t the Bucks have bigger goals? Of course, and Thanasis, making his first career start, was determined to maintain the Bucks’ focused dominance. The 33-15, 2nd place Nuggets aren’t earning the most attention, but they have the size to (attempt to) wall of Giannis. It’s cliche to say Denver “had other plans,” but undoubtedly, a 2nd place team won’t play scared. The Antetokounbros focused on the tip, and another critical momentum-swinging winter game commenced.

Big Fat Greek Lead

First, the family-oriented Bucks gathered under the announcer’s Greek introduction.

 

Giannis provides a unique opportunity to Milwaukee with his Greek heritage. His background enables a chance to connect with a colorful culture and enhances the Bucks’ already strong association with the community. When the game started, Thanasis provided an intense crowd already shouting, “defense! Defense!” with an energizing slam.

The deer raced to an 11-2 lead, forcing a Michael Malone timeout. Hoo-rah, game over! Well, maybe against teams like the Pistons or Wizards. Forty-eight minutes is a long time, though. Perhaps it’s correct to remind fans that the Bucks are each team’s Super Bowl. Denver is too talented and determined to give up. A surprising occurrence followed: they fought back.

Building Wall And Launching Threes

Unfortunately, Toronto drew a blueprint on how to stymie Milwaukee’s offense. Build a wall around Giannis, and make his teammates swish outside daggers. The oversized Nuggets had the personnel many others don’t to humble the Greek Freak.

As you may expect, coach Bud drew a T for criticizing that baloney sandwich no-call. The point is, though, that Giannis wasn’t quite as dominant. He scored 31 points, but on only 11/27 shooting. Making the situation much worse was chilly outside shooting: 12 of 40, just 30%. Meanwhile, the Nuggets hit a staggering 22 treys. That’s a 30 point difference! Denver clawed back to catch the Bucks and fought ahead. A discouraged Milwaukee team (now that’s rare!) couldn’t recover.

Knocked Down, But Months To Realign

After the game, a slightly subdued but still humbled Thanasis shared his perspective from his first start. He was so awe-struck he didn’t know the procedure for warm-ups, and he dreamily reminisced about fantasies of playing in the NBA with Giannis.

Granted, Milwaukee can’t do much when the other squad hits 22 threes. However, Giannis could pass outside more instead of forcing 27 shots against a formidable barrier. Also, if threes aren’t falling, shooting 40 of 95, or 42%, of shots from the suburbs perhaps is foolish. Instead, Khris Middleton could shoot his patented mid-range, or Eric Bledsoe could provide another paint option.

After the dispiriting loss, Milwaukee had no time to mope. An improved Suns team rose to the Forum challenge.

Phoenix Eclipsed

The Suns started close in the first half, but without Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, or Dario Saric, only 11 players were available. Still, surely five are enough to hinder Giannis.

Oh dear, it seems the quality of defenders matters in stoping the Greek God, not the quantity. With Giannis charging with another 30 points and 19 boards, the rest of the team became rather bored. Not to worry, as Bango and a rather poorly-spelling Pierre delighted the Bucks’ cartoon guru.

Finally, note how Khris prepared for the All-Star game with a Devin Booker ankle-breaker Froedert will need to make a #1 priority.

OK, so the Bucks started the week with an easy win over an overmatched lottery player. What will the next game bring?

New Era In New Orleans

On Tuesday at 6:30 central, the Bucks travel to New Orleans. Zion Williamson offers a much more formidable challenge than in a not-even-so-close 127-112 December deer domination. However, with Giannis, Brook, and Robin as rim protectors, Zion will have a more difficult time gassing his steamroller. Also, the Bucks’ depth will severely test the Pelicans with the former Blue Devil still on a minutes restriction. With the suddenly sprinting Raptors winning their 11th straight, the Bucks need to find a new plan for a potential sizable grudge match. If the Bucks can zip past Zion, they’ll be ready for a telling reunion with Philadelphia in the Forum Thursday night. So get your gyro ready: Giannis devours opponents’ trepidations.

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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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