Game In Review: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Portland Trail Blazers – December 7


The Milwaukee Bucks clinched a win in dramatic fashion, somewhat absolving a poor performance against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Starting Lineups

Milwaukee Bucks: O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe

Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, Noah Vonleh, Mason Plumlee

After a strong showing to hold off the New York Knicks on Saturday, the Milwaukee Bucks were once again in action at home in the Bradley Center on Monday night.

The visitors were former Bucks’ coach Terry Stotts young Portland Trail Blazers, and in many ways they were the test dummy for Milwaukee to try and get a read on how their latest lineup change is paying off.

With a brutal run of schedule about to kick in starting with Wednesday’s visit of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Bucks need to be sure that the positive outcome of Mayo at point guard with Michael Carter-Williams in the second unit, wasn’t just a once off occurrence on Saturday.

The way the game started out the signs were positive. Opening up the first quarter, Milwaukee moved the ball well, shared possession, and reaped the rewards by doing the simple things right.

With the Trail Blazers playing quite loosely with the ball in possession, the Bucks pressed the issue, forcing three live ball turnovers before the first mandatory timeout.

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This created transition offense for Milwaukee, which is always a good thing, and the Bucks did a nice job of capitalizing based off of Mayo’s composure and patience running down the floor. The highlight came with a delayed drop off pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo for a simple dunk.

The first quarter would finish with six Portland turnovers, a trend Milwaukee would hope to continue.

The second started well as Milwaukee continued to look to force turnovers, and Michael Carter-Williams continued his own run of looking to attack the rim, as displayed against New York on Saturday.

It wouldn’t take long for things to turn south though. The Bucks went through a near four minute scoring drought as the second unit took over, yet it didn’t take long to set things right again. Almost immediately after Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo were re-inserted, this happened:

The Bucks continued to ignore the three-pointer, as neither team had any real first half success from behind the arc. Luckily for Milwaukee, at that point, Portland had no real answers for the Bucks big men.

If the second quarter was far from ideal, in spite of Milwaukee leading by nine at the interval, the third continued in that same vein.

The Blazers slowly cut into that lead, but it would have been a great relief to Milwaukee that they struggled through most of the early stages of the third.

After missing the long ball all night long, it was towards the end of the period when Portland finally started to see the ball go down, and behind some strong shooting from Lillard they managed to snatch a narrow two point lead heading into the final 12 minutes.

The Bucks came out strong, and a combination of a Jabari Parker and-one, a big three-pointer from Khris Middleton, and a steal which allowed Middleton to get out in transition and get to the line. Back-to-back Portland three-pointers would swing the game in a hurry, and start off an eventual 12-0 run.

Strangely, Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t play until near the four minute mark in the final quarter, and although he came back in playing strong to try and pull his team back in, it seemed like the Bucks may have left themselves a little too much to do.

Damian Lillard at the free throw line was not how Milwaukee wanted the game decided. With Portland up four, Milwaukee could have been forgiven for giving up hope.

A big time OJ Mayo three pointer made it a game, and on the following possession the Bucks did the smart thing by not fouling immediately and working for the trap. Michael Carter-Williams forced a jump ball against CJ McCollum which he successfully tipped to Greg Monroe.

Carter-Williams took the reins once again with the Blazers lead at one point and the clock winding down, and he executed perfectly to create a nice inside look for Greg Monroe. Moose dropped it in, and out of the fire, the Bucks led with 5 seconds remaining.

It would take one more big defensive stand though, and that’s exactly what the Bucks got. Good pressure on the inbounds flustered Portland, and John Henson positioned himself for a game-winning block.

A little drama never hurt anybody