StaTuesday: Bucks fare well without Giannis

It’s no secret that Giannis Antetokounmpo is the straw that stirs the drink for the 46-7 Milwaukee Bucks.

After all, the Greek Freak is one of the leading MVP candidates and has averaged 30.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists per game while shooting 54.9% from the floor this season. Not exactly the most replaceable player out there.

But despite Antetokounmpo’s gaudy numbers, the Bucks have actually fared quite well when he has been sidelined.

In fact, Milwaukee is unbeaten when it has been without the services of the reigning MVP.

No game is a better example of how the team plays in his absence than Monday night’s 123-111 win over the Sacramento Kings. Milwaukee was by no means excellent, but Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton filled the scoring void with 28 points apiece, along with Brook Lopez adding 20 points.

In the four other games without Antetokounmpo, the Bucks beat the New Orleans Pelicans 127-112 on Dec. 11, topped the Atlanta Hawks 112-86 on Dec. 27 and the Orlando Magic 111-100 the next night, and outscored the Washington Wizards 151-131 on Jan. 28.

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Much like Monday’s contest against Sacramento, it’s been Middleton carrying the load. In those five games, Middleton has averaged 29.4 points per game, including a 51-point outburst that was critical to the Bucks beating Washington. The former Texas A&M standout hit seven of his 10 3-point attempts in that game.

Bledsoe missed the Atlanta and Orlando games as well, but in the three other games without Antetokounmpo he has recorded 30.3 points and 8.0 assists per game. Additionally, Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova and Donte DiVincenzo have chipped in with multiple double-digit scoring outputs in Antetokounmpo’s absence.

In those five games, the Bucks have not only shot very well, but they also have able to been able to limit opposing squads to an average of 108 points, below the NBA league average of 111.1 points per game. As a result, the Bucks have not won one of those games by fewer than 11 points.

Milwaukee is firing on all cylinders and has a legitimate chance to become the third team in NBA history to win 70 games in a season. It takes the right collection of talent to do that, so it’s a testament to the entire Bucks’ organization that the team has survived without Antetokounmpo.