Feb 11, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) draws a blocking foul against Indiana Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III (40) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Article continues below ...
It took the Milwaukee Bucks a game, but the team regrouped and played fantastic basketball to beat the Indiana Pacers at home on Saturday night.
The Milwaukee Bucks were thirsty for a win. Milwaukee has obviously struggled lately, and a match-up with the playoff-bound Indiana Pacers seemed like it would end in another loss for the Bucks.
Jason Kidd‘s tinkering continued from the last game into this one, and that tinkering ended up paying off on Saturday. Kidd rolled with a new starting five, one without John Henson or Greg Monroe (or the two centers obtained from the Charlotte Hornets, thankfully) and that new group did well!
The Bucks won all four quarters, which is usually a pretty sound strategy to employ. Both the bench and the starters played well, and although nobody was watching because of the game between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder there was some good basketball going on in Indianapolis.
Now, let’s get to the real grades. As usual, we’ll go through and grade each player in the starting lineup, each player who came off the bench, Kidd’s performance, and finally the opposing team as a whole.
Feb 11, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) plays defense against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
After a really rough outing against the Los Angeles Lakers, Matthew Dellavedova strapped on his Dellys and had a better game on Saturday. The Bucks still got outscored while he was on the floor, but Dellavedova posted nine points, four assists, one rebound and no turnovers in 33 minutes. Delly made just two of his shots, but he added three free throws to boost his scoring output a bit. Considering Jeff Teague scored just two points, Delly was clearly doing something right.
Tony Snell was balling out on Saturday night. Snell ended the night with 14 points on the strength of four made threes. He took five all night, and those were all the field goals he attempted. In addition to his scoring, Snell added four rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and zero turnovers. Every team needs role players who are exceptional at excelling in their role, and Snell has been playing like one of those guys this season.
Michael Beasley got his first start ever with the Milwaukee Bucks, and he did okay. It took him eight shots to get seven points, but Beas contributed outside of pure scoring. He added six rebounds, three of them coming on the offensive end, plus three assists. Unfortunately, Beas also turned the ball over twice. Beasley’s rebounding and scoring is nice for Milwaukee when the rest of the team is struggling to get a bucket, and although he could definitely take less shots he had a pretty nice game on Saturday.
Giannis may not have set another career-high in scoring against the Pacers, but Point Giannis was dishing assists left and right on Saturday. He finished the night with 20 points, ten assists, eight rebounds, one steal and two blocks. As Marques Johnson noted on the broadcast, Giannis was making the right pass all night. He needed just nine shots to get to 20 points, thanks in large part to his 14 attempted free throws. This was an exciting game from the Greek Freak, because in addition to playing well he made his teammates better. That’s the mark of a great player.
Thon Maker got another start, but this one came at the five instead of the four. That was big for the Bucks, who flourished in the extra spacing provided by this lineup. Thon wasn’t spectacular in an individual sense, but 12 points, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and no turnovers certainly isn’t a bad performance. Unfortunately the Bucks were still worse with Thon on the floor, although he looks to be getting sharper on a near-nightly basis.
Feb 11, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) argues with a referee over a foul called on him during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Milwaukee defeats Indiana 116-100. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Moose was loose in Indiana last night. Greg Monroe went off, putting up 17 points (on just eight shots), eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and two blocks. The Pacers simply had no answer for Monroe all night long, and he kept doing him. Milwaukee outscored Indiana by 21 points while Moose was on the floor, the second-best mark among all Bucks. One word to describe Monroe’s game? How about savvy.
Speaking of savvy, Malcolm Brogdon was the one player with a better plus/minus than Monroe. Brogdon dropped 17 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal on the Pacers on Saturday. It wasn’t one of his best performances–Brogdon often gets more assists/rebounds than he did Saturday, and it took him 14 shots to get those 17 points–but it’s remarkable the expectations on a second-round pick are so high that that last statement doesn’t sound ludicrous.
With Khris Middleton getting a game off to rest, Rashad Vaughn finagled some playing time on Saturday night. Vaughn was more locked in than we’ve seen in a while, recording two points, one rebound, one assist, one steal and one block. His shot was off, as he made just one of his five attempted buckets, but Vaughn looked downright focused on defense.
Mirza Teletovic (probably) got back to the locker room on Saturday after the game, reached for his iPhone, and asked Siri to play his new anthem. “Last night took an L but tonight I bounce back,” blared Big Sean through Mirza’s bluetooth speaker, as he quietly nods in agreement. Teletovic missed a lot of shots on Friday, but for a while on Saturday it looked like he wasn’t capable of not hitting a shot. Only Giannis scored more than the 19 points Teletovic put up, and he added two rebounds and an assist as well. Any time Teletovic makes five threes, Bucks games become a lot more exciting.
Jan 10, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd reacts during the first half against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hard to grade Jason Kidd all of the time, because there’s no telling if he’s doing something for a strategic reason or just to try something new. Whatever the case, starting Thon Maker at the five and going small clearly worked wonders for the Bucks on Saturday night. Milwaukee’s defense was strong too, and by packing the paint and making Pacers besides Paul George and Jeff Teague (who combined for just 15 points) do the scoring the Bucks effectively neutralized Indiana’s offense. This was a great game for the Bucks, who stuck with a small rotation but still didn’t play any one player more than 36 minutes. Not playing two traditional centers seems to be a good look for these Bucks, which isn’t great for John Henson’s minutes going forward.
Feb 11, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) brings the ball up court against the Milwaukee Bucks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Milwaukee defeats Indiana 116-100. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Indiana Pacers are really weird. Somehow this team often struggles to get Paul George involved in games, which is what happened on Saturday. George and Teague, likely the two best players on the team, combined to score 15 points on just 13 combined attempted field goals. Some of that is because of the Bucks gameplan, but C.J. Miles took 16 shots. Forget the gameplan, C.J. Miles cannot be taking more shots than Teague and PG-13 combined. The Pacers have a pretty talented team, but there was something off about them on Saturday.