Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks @ Golden State Warriors – December 19


Revenge comes sweet for the Golden State Warriors as they topple the Milwaukee Bucks in a thriller at Oracle Arena.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe

Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut

And lo, with chaos reigning throughout the organization from the headquarters in Milwaukee to the troops on the West Coast, head coach Jason Kidd hath restored the go-to lineup most called upon thus far this year.

Presumably the experiment that was the benching of Giannis Antetokounmpo will not rear its head again for a while, and that was good news for a Bucks team needing all the firepower it could get facing a revenge lusting team in the Golden State Warriors.

In one of the oddest back and forths leading up to tonight’s game, the Warriors fully expressed their largely negative feelings towards the “character” of the Bucks after Milwaukee cut Golden State’s win streak at 24 games.

That fed into a passive aggressive response by Michael Carter-Williams, which was followed by the production of “10-18” T-shirts for Warriors fans, which eventually came full circle in Jason Kidd throwing a slight barb at the whole spectacle:

Thrilling stuff, and such was the background heading into the rematch between the NBA’s best and the NBA’s meh.

One could certainly feel the energy in a fully packed Oracle Arena, and it was evident from the word go that both teams were pretty amp’d up for this one.  A Stephen Curry three got things going, but baskets were traded both directions at a high clip.

It was equally chippy at the outset, culminating eventually in a flagrant foul called on Andrew Bogut for a hard foul on MCW at about the 8:30 mark.

In general, each team was as hot as they could be coming out the gate and both teams racked up 20+ points with 5 minutes left in the quarter.  Michael Carter-Williams appeared to be in full-on revenge mode, ending the quarter with 13 points (on 4-7 shooting) and 3 rebounds.  An example of a successfully converted turnover follows:

While the starting unit did a great job of keeping pace with the Warriors out of the gate, the fire appeared to cool a bit with the substitutions of John Henson and Johnny O’Bryant onto the floor.

Rebounds and fouls began to go Golden State’s way, but aggressively horrible defense by Stephen Curry in particular let the Bucks continue to attack, eventually ending the quarter with a Bucks lead, 36-33 (!!!).

The second quarter kept up much like the first: high aggression and extreme pace.  Giannis was the only starter with the second unit, but a drop in offense wasn’t evident.  Swarming defense kept the distance on Golden State, and the Bucks eventually extended their lead out to seven.

What might have been most amazing this far through the game was the number of fouls the Bucks were able to get out of Golden State.  By the half, the Warriors had garnered 14 fouls, though Milwaukee kept pace with 13.  The key was the planting of Bogut and Festus Ezeli firmly on the bench throughout the half.

As the Bucks tried to push the pace, they appeared to fray apart at their own work.  Transition sets that should have ended in an easy basket too often turned into turnovers, and the Warriors clawed their way back into thing. Surprisingly, the re-insertion of the starting lineup meant a spark for Milwaukee to close out the half.

Giannis seemed to find his shot inside, Khris Middleton drained a timely three, Greg Monroe was crafty around the basket, and the Warriors couldn’t seem to buy a bucket, especially from deep where they ended the half going a mere 4-15 from beyond the arc for 27%.

A frantic ending to the half kept the Bucks having scored 70 points on their way to a 70-58 lead.

(I must take this paragraph to try to detail how unreal this half was to watch: The Milwaukee Bucks looked spectacular. They shot a silly percentage, they moved the ball in ways we haven’t seen all year, the defense was stifling, and they had completely shut down Oracle Arena.

My God, people, THEY SCORED 70 BY THE HALF!  As simply a fan, a half like that gets your heart racing, has you jumping out of your chair, and lets you live and die with every possession.  Unbelievable.)

The Warriors decided to start the half big with Ezeli inside, and it payed some immediate dividends given the Bucks suffocating D on the perimeter.  Ezeli was fed plenty inside, and it was clear that Greg Monroe was laboring to move with a busted up left knee.

Frenetic movement on offense for Milwaukee also disappeared, and some slower offensive sets resulted in contested shots and open attempts for Golden State on the other end. Things began to slip apart en masse, forcing Jason Kidd to call a timeout and recoup with 7:39 in the quarter.

Once more the name of the game was intensity, and a series of pretty comical possessions brought Golden State near all the way back.  This Curry three summed up the Warrior’s comeback pretty well:

A *ahem*, James Michael McAdoo transition dunk brought the game to a standstill with the Bucks clinging to a two point lead.  Suddenly, an impossible to hope for MCW three went in, OJ Mayo drew a three point foul, and Golden State seemed to be out of momentum.  Just like that, a one point game was up to nine.

Much like last week, the Bucks somehow dug deep to respond to a run by Golden State, and stiffened on defense maintaining a lead heading into the fourth of 93-85.

Miles Plumlee said that the fourth quarter was his, and he got a big couple of exclamation points in fantastic interior D, a great block and an unreal alley-oop.  Golden State was forced to rely largely on their backups to keep things within contention, and for the most part they did an admirable job.

That is, until Miles Plumlee decided to begin his MVP campaign hustling to grab an OJ Mayo miss which eventually was converted into yet another timely floater in the lane.

8:44 left on the clock and an 11 point Bucks lead prompted the Golden State Warriors to re-insert their starters… before Miles Plumlee got another offensive rebound ending up in another GS foul.

Of course, the dam was going to break at least one last time, and the Warriors tuned things up for another run at the lead capped off by a trailer Draymond Green three to bring the scoreboard to 100-97, Bucks.

Unfortunately for Milwaukee, the momentum kept rolling in the Warrior’s direction, and Golden State took the lead with roughly 5:00 on the clock at 102-103 GS.  Of course, five minutes is a lot of time in the world of basketball.

From there on out, it was a knock down, drag out fight to the finish.  The rhythm of the first quarter returned once more with lead changes flying left to right.  Golden State finally put together a series of crucial stops resulting in either wide open 3s or a split Bucks defense.

Milwaukee’s final hope was laid before them down five, 110-115, with :51 on the clock.

A missed Middleton three forced Giannis to intentionally foul, his sixth on the night, and the game was sealed from there.  Free throws finished it off, and the unexpectedly defiant Milwaukee Bucks fell on the road, 112-121.

89. Final. 121. 41. 112

One hell of a game though, everyone.