All streaks were meant to be broken — even the Golden State Warriors’ incredible 24-0 start to the 15/16 NBA season.
While both the Warriors and Bucks were coming off difficult road games Friday night, it was the Bucks who looked the more lively bunch on Saturday night in Milwaukee, and in the process they did what no other team has done this season: beat Stephen Curry,Draymond Green and the defending champs. Jason Kidd’s club needed a first career triple-double from Giannis Antetokounmpo, a big night from Greg Monroe, a season-high from Jabari Parker and a strong two-way effort from Michael Carter-Williams to do it, but they got all of those things in what ultimately proved a dream night for Bucks Nation.
Monroe was the biggest star of the night with 28 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, including a flurry of buckets down the stretch against Green, who was also the Warriors’ best player with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists of his own. Curry added a good-but-not-great-for-him 28 points (10/21 shooting, 2/8 threes), but the Bucks did well limiting his open looks from three and managed to contain the rest of the Warriors about as well as could have been expected. Though they buzzed up and down the court like usual and managed to nab 15 offensive rebounds, Golden State connected on just 6/26 from three and shot just 40% overall.
While Monroe’s 11 fourth quarter points ultimately provided decisive, the Bucks’ big man had no shortage of support from his teammates. First, the backcourt duo of O.J. Mayoand Khris Middleton got them off to a good start with a combined 16 first quarter points, propelling the energized Bucks to a 28-18 lead. The Warriors then ripped off a 15-0 run against the Bucks’ second unit early in the second, but Giannis scored nine and added five assists as the Bucks’ starters extended the lead back to 59-48 at the half. In the third it was Parker’s turn, as he sparked the Bucks with nine points as Milwaukee clung to an 80-77 lead heading into the final stanza.
From there on out it was all Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams. First MCW got things going with a couple of tough (slash lucky?) floaters to push the Bucks’ lead to 85-77 early in the fourth. Monroe then took over down the stretch, blowing by Green for three layups and setting up MCW for a thunderous two-handed dunk and later Giannis for a layup. Together MCW and Monroe combined for 22 of the Bucks’ 28 fourth quarter points, with a steal and slam from MCW providing the game’s final exclamation point.
– Frank Madden
- You can re-watch every made basket from the game right here.
- In his pregame availability, Kidd talked about the need for Antetokounmpo learning to lead the second unit when I asked about Antetokounmpo coming out early in the first quarter last night. The entire exchange was pretty fascinating.
- Also, in his pregame availability, Kidd mentioned that Middleton will not play with the second unit as much anymore and said, “We play through Khris a lot and we’re probably going to play through him tonight.”
- Mayo was fantastic early, scoring 11 early points in 9 minutes and 20 seconds of first quarter action. He was three-for-three from the line and had a nice backdoor pass to Parker for a dunk.
- Mayo was four-for-five from three in the first half. He hit some big shots, if those exist in the second quarter.
- Rotation Stuff: Rashad Vaughn and Johnny O’Bryant entered the game for the first time with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
- 3rd Quarter Bench Minutes: Carter-Williams 5:11, Henson 4:14, Johnny O’Bryant 1:46
- The Bucks started the fourth quarter with MCW/Middleton/Giannis/JOB/Henson and ended it with MCW/Mayo/Middleton/Giannis/Monroe.
- Three Bucks played the entire fourth quarter: Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Carter-Williams. (Monroe played 11:34 of the final period.)
- After playing the entire third quarter, Parker went to the bench with a team-high 19 points — and didn’t play at all in the fourth.
- Middleton gave the Bucks an early boost with seven quick points on 3/3 shooting, but then proceeded to miss his final nine shots and didn’t score in the final three quarters.
- I commented on Johnny O’Bryant’s ability to commit a professional foul the other night. The rest of the lineup struggles with wrapping somebody up and keeping opponents from getting a chance at a three point play.
- The first two quarters were the best two quarters of the Bucks’ season. The defense was flying around. The offense was moving the ball. Antetokounmpo almost had a triple-double. Monroe almost had a double-double. The depleted bench survived against the Warriors’ bench. Mayo was 4-for-5 from the three point line. Giannis hit a catch-and-shoot three.
- (That previous bullet was written at halftime because I didn’t think the Bucks would be able to continue their stellar play for four quarters. It was refreshing to see their effort and focus sustained for 48 minutes.)
- Jabari Parker is fantastic at taking the right steps to get himself prepared to explode on the catch on fast breaks. He always manages to get his feet in the perfect position to jump off of two feet instead of one.
- It’s been said many times before, but Carter-Williams struggles regularly because his plan is often to take the ball to the basket, no matter how many defenders are in his way. Sometimes, it works out because he can bounce off a defender or have a few floaters fall. Tonight was one of the times it worked. He made a number of big plays down the stretch and ended with 11 fourth quarter points.
- While chatting with Alex Boeder and Jeremy Schmidt during the game tonight, I decided on a nickname for Johnny O’Bryant. Just Enough. As in, he does just enoughto make me think he might someday in the far off future possibly be a rotation player in the right situation if everything happens right.
- Tonight, it seemed like every play was a HUGE play because the Warriors are just so damn good. Here is a list of fourth quarter plays that I thought were HUGE in sequential order (time left/score): Carter-Williams’ floater plus the foul (9:39/85-77), O’Bryant’s baseline jump shot (6:57/91-79), Carter-Williams’ two-hand dunk from Monroe (6:00/93-80), Monroe’s layup on Green (5:29/95-83), and Monroe’s layup plus foul (2:51/102-90).
- Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his first career triple-double. That is pretty awesome.
- This was a huge win and could possibly help turn around the Bucks season…or they could lose to the Lakers on Tuesday night in Los Angeles. For this game to be meaningful, the Bucks need to start bringing the focus they brought to EVERY SINGLE possession against the Warriors.
- After the game, Kidd said, “Tonight, we couldn’t rest on anybody. There was nobody out there you could take a break on. So, guys were helping one another and we got deflections and steals, something we take pride in.” Essentially, Kidd suggested that it is easier to stay focused defensively when the other team is full of great players. The test for the Bucks will be to bring that effort against the worst teams in the league, like they did against the best team in the league.