A day after clinching their first-ever playoff berth, Milwaukee Bucks Gaming came back to defeat Mavs Gaming and improve their playoff positioning in the process.
No more than 24 hours after clinching their first-ever playoff berth, Bucks Gaming had some unfinished business to tend to Friday night.
The Milwaukee Bucks 2K League affiliate had a regular season closing contest with fellow playoff team Mavs Gaming. While the high stakes of playing for a playoff berth had been lost with the Bucks punching their ticket to the playoffs, both teams had plenty to play for when it came to improving their respective spots in the playoff bracket.
That certainly set the stage for how the series unfolded and defense was the theme for the Bucks all throughout the night.
Game 1, though, saw the Mavs get off and running to take early control of the contest as they looked to neutralize the Bucks’ top perimeter scoring threats in Regg and ARooks and successively did so.
That strategy only led to Plondo showing out in a big way as the Bucks big man absolutely feasted inside to power the Bucks’ offensive attack throughout the opening clash as he scored 27 points on 12-of-13 shooting from the field.
Even as the Bucks’ offense was bogged down by 17 turnovers in Game 1, and they were only limited to 11 3-point attempts, they still put their rally caps on throughout the second half and thanks to some moments of brilliance down the stretch, were in position to seal what could have been an incredible comeback victory.
Alas, the wide open look from 3-point range for ARooks didn’t fall and despite a valiant offensive rebound for Plondo, the Bucks’ last-ditch effort to tie the Mavs at 62 went for naught and saw them go down 1-0 in the series.
While they ultimately fell in the opening game, the lessons the Bucks learned over Game 1 went on to define their series turnaround and comeback victory.
That was felt immediately once Game 2 tipped off and the Bucks’ staunch and aggressive defending absolutely flummoxed the Mavs and fueled Milwaukee’s dominance on both ends of the floor. And the Bucks didn’t let up on the full court pressure as it led them to hold a double-digit lead throughout much of the tilt.
As they got back to business as usual and ended up evening up the series with a 79-58 walloping for Game 2, the Bucks’ star rookie guard, Regg, showed out in a big way as he finished with a 31-point effort on 12-of-19 shooting (2-for-6 from three), along with nine assists and four steals.
He had plenty of help along the way, between both Ty and ARooks going a combined 6-for-8 from beyond the arc, and Plondo nearing on a triple-double outing with 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
All of that was certainly key, but it was the terrorizing defensive effort that the Bucks put on the Mavs that was central to their opening victory as they forced 18 turnovers on Dallas and collectively tallied 16 steals. With that kind of pressure coming relentlessly, Dallas only attempted 12 threes, thus silencing any comeback attempt from the Mavs.
As thrilling as it was to even up the series, the Bucks arguably saved their best for last in the decisive Game 3 and kicked it all off in a familiar rhythm that was reminiscent of how things got started in Game 2. Dallas continued to struggle getting in any kind of rhythm with the Bucks’ blitzing defensive strategy and it only fueled the Bucks’ lethal transition game the 3-point barrage that defined their 81-72 Game 3 victory.
Milwaukee went an astounding 16-for-26 from downtown and each three left the Mavs hanging their heads low as they tried to get any and all comeback efforts off the ground throughout the 24 minutes. The sharpshooting ARooks unsurprisingly led that barrage as all of his 21 points came from beyond the arc, and with Regg often setting up his cohort that helped him to craft a 21-point, 11 assist double-double.
Once again, Game 3 was defined by the total team effort the Bucks put in to clinch their comeback as all five starters finished in double figures and stood resilient and poised as the Mavs attempted to bring down their large deficit down to single digits late.
All in all, the Bucks forced a combined 43 turnovers and accumulated 39 steals throughout the series. And it’s been that controlled chaos that they have tinkered with and perfected on that side of the ball all season long that was key to their four-game winning streak to close out their regular season campaign, and now helped them to lock down the sixth seed going into the playoffs.
For now, Bucks Gaming will have to wait for the results of The Ticket tournament that starts off next Wednesday before the playoffs begin the following week. As always, we’ll have the coverage of Bucks Gaming’s inaugural playoff run when it officially kicks off.