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
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The Milwaukee Bucks went into Indiana in desperate need of a win. They played hard, and found a way to prevail.
The Milwaukee Bucks struggled to get on the board early in the first quarter on Saturday night, which may have been due to the starting line-up’s lack of court time together. Jason Kidd decided to add Michael Beasley and move Thon Maker to the center spot in his latest lineup change.
This line-up provides great spacing potential, but also leaves the defensive duties largely to Giannis. Thon seems susceptible to being drawn away from his man, leading to an easy lob pass for the opposing center.
The Bucks got into a groove, though, finishing the quarter with a 29-22 lead. The team showed signs of life for the first time since the Jabari Parker injury. They moved the ball well, hitting open shooters on the perimeter.
The Pacers played to keep Giannis out of the lane, leaving him to find his teammates. He finished the quarter with five assists, and only two shot attempts. The Bucks’ star is back to playing with the ball in his hands.
Quarter number two started off kindly as well. The Milwaukee bench moved the ball and hit shots. The Bucks opened up their lead to 12 points behind three three-pointers in the first six minutes of the quarter.
Thon showed up big for the rest of the half with a dunk and two pick-and-pop threes, to give him eight first half points.
The bench had its best game in quite a long time. The second unit did an excellent job moving the ball leading to, Greg Monroe finishing with 17 points, Mirza Teletovic with 19 points, and Brogdon putting in 17 of his own.
Milwaukee went into the half up 62-52, with Giannis threatening a triple double, five points, four rebounds, and six assists.
The probable playoff-bound Pacers came into the second half with a lot more energy than the first half. Indiana played up the line, making it difficult for the Bucks to open space. When they did find a hole in the defense, they just happened to miss.
The Pacers erased the ten point halftime lead with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But as your intoxicated family member would yell, IT’S A GAME OF RUNS.
Giannis, trying to prove to the Bucks’ fanbase that his hands ARE big enough to cradle them all for a nap, stepped up his energy and took over the game. Each possession was his possession. The Bucks would go on a 9-0 run of their own. Giannis put the Pacers’ fan base back in their seats with a dunk from 13 feet out (according to Jim Paschke on the broadcast), just inside the free throw line.
From that point forward, the Bucks played good basketball, opening their lead to 14 points heading into the fourth up 88-74.
The final quarter had a couple of moments that saw the Pacers cut the lead to eight points, but the Bucks never let them get any closer. Point Giannis helped the Bucks put the game out of reach with three consecutive assists to a Milwaukee guard from behind the arc.
Milwaukee would get their second win in nine games, outscoring Indiana by 116-100.
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
In his second outing after losing Jabari Parker, Giannis continued to have the ball in his hands more often. Every possession runs through him now, as it is largely his responsibility to get the team an open shot.
When Giannis was on the floor, he ran into some foul trouble late in the second half, he played with a heightened level of intensity, without really being allotted the opportunity to take a second to breathe in the corner anymore.
The Pacers were making it tough for him to get to the hole, so he went into playmaker mode. Rest assured, he was still making a huge impact on the game. Whether it be a LeBron James-like cross court jump pass to an open Malcolm Brogdon, or a pick-and-roll one armed bounce pass to the Moose, Giannis was dealing.
The lengthy playmaker worked for 16 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal. For the second night in a row, Giannis got himself to the line, shooting 12-14.
Feb 1, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker (7) shoots the ball against Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum (11) during the second half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Jazz won 104-88. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Thon Maker received his second consecutive start. Jason Kidd used him at the center position for the night, optimizing the Bucks’ spacing. Thon spent a lot of his time spotting up in the corner, or performing a pick-and-pop from the top of the key.
This helped create open shots for the Milwaukee shooters. Without a center down low, the Bucks had four shooters around the perimeter, spacing out the Indiana defense. When Giannis drove into the lane, the yellow jerseys had more space to cover, allowing a quick kick out.
Thon being on the floor alone helps create positive spacing, but on Saturday he forced the Pacers to respect his shot, hitting 3-5 from three. The rookie seems very determined to prove to the league that he has the range. It just feels like he’s putting some extra will into it.
Maker seems to be a source of energy for the team. I don’t think he’s ever been beat back on defense by his match up, or the ball for that matter. Nor do I question this becoming a problem in the future. The kid is very convincing, he’ll play hard.
Thon finished the night playing 20 minutes, with 12 points, three rebounds, one assist, and two steals.
Feb 11, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Monta Ellis (11) dunks against Milwaukee Bucks forward Mirza Teletovic (35) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Milwaukee defeats Indiana 116-100. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The bench was at it’s finest Saturday night. Malcolm Brogdon led the unit with his strong play making abilities. With the bench on the floor in particular, the ball was really moving around the perimeter.
This provided many open looks for Mirza Teletovic, who used the opportunity to knock down 5-9 from deep. It also allowed Greg Monroe to take advantage of the defense being out of position. A quick drop down pass to the Moose, led to a quick move for a lay in multiple times.
The big man would contribute 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists, a steal, and two blocks. The four assists is very indicative of just how well the team was moving the ball. Teletovic would add in 19 points, two rebounds, and an assist.
Brogdon played an aggressive game, scoring 17 points, on 5-14 shooting, three rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
Rashad Vaughn, the fourth and last member of the bench, played 20 minutes. Although he didn’t do much offensively, the second year Runnin’ Rebel played very well on the defensive end. He seems to be trying to earn his minutes by playing hard nosed defense.
Vaughn’s playing up the line, and not backing off when his matchup gets the ball. His size allows him to get blown by and still be able to re-enter the play and contest a shot or pass. Late in the fourth quarter, he ran back in transition and slapped a lay up attempt off the glass for a momentum building block. He’s been producing lately, hopefully that leads to a more significant role.