For the first time since a historic clash in Game 7 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks returned to the Barclays Center to take on the Brooklyn Nets last night.
After dropping their previous two games, the Bucks faced a tall order getting back on the right track Friday night. Not only were they set to square off against the star-studded Nets, but they would have to do so without several pivotal pieces due to injuries and health and safety protocols. Despite the adversity, the Bucks embraced the challenge and handed the Nets a 121-109 loss, an impressive win to get them back in the win column. With all that said, let us take a closer look at a few closer takeaways to see what got them there.
Wesley Matthews showed why the Milwaukee Bucks were right to guarantee his contract with a fantastic two-way performance
The Bucks had until Friday afternoon to decide whether they would guarantee Wesley Matthews’ contract for the remainder of the season or not. Unsurprisingly, the front office opted to keep the veteran around, and it paid off in a big way immediately as he clocked in a spirited effort against the Nets just a few hours later.
Matthews started the game off guarding Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, which is no easy assignment for even the most skilled defenders. While there is no one that can outright stop Durant from scoring, Matthews did an outstanding job pestering him from start to finish. The swingman has earned a reputation in this league due to his tough defense, and it was on display last night. It is safe to say that Matthews has been a very welcoming addition to Milwaukee’s defense this season. If another potential postseason meeting between these two teams comes to fruition, the Bucks will benefit from having someone like him on their side.
Although defense might be his calling card, Matthews also contributed offensively by chipping in 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor. His 3-point shot was not falling with consistency as Matthews knocked down just two triples in six attempts, but he managed to make an impact by finding other ways to score. With the Bucks without a sizeable portion of their typical scorers, it was a massive boost from Matthews as he filled in as a starter.
In addition to his defense and offense, Matthews showed off his toughness against the Nets. He battled persistently on the glass all night as the 6-foot-4 guard pulled down a season-high seven rebounds. There was also a scary moment where Matthews bumped knees with Durant and could not stand on his own, being helped to the bench. Just a few minutes later, he returned to the court and picked up right where he left off. They call him the ironman for a reason.
This is just the latest impressive game from Matthews in a season that has been full of them.