3 takeaways from Milwaukee Bucks’ thrilling win over Washington Wizards

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 01 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 01 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton, Grayson Allen, Donte DiVincenzo, Washington Wizards: Rui Hachimura
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – FEBRUARY 01 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks know how to make things interesting when they are on national television, don’t they? For those who need convincing, look no further than last night’s thrilling duel with the Washington Wizards, which was a must-see roller coaster ride from start to finish.

It was all Milwaukee early as they jumped out to a 15 point lead in the first quarter, largely thanks to hot starts from Bobby Portis and Grayson Allen. Leading by 13 at the half, the Bucks looked like they were in good shape, but it is no secret how this team has struggled in the second half of their games this season, particularly in the third quarter. Milwaukee’s lead slowly shrunk in the third as Washington never quit, taking a single-digit deficit into the fourth quarter. These spirited Wizards even took the lead for the first time early in the fourth period, but that seemed to be the moment where the Bucks flipped the metaphorical switch as they immediately reclaimed control of this one and eventually secured the 112-98 victory.

With all that said, let us dive deeper by looking at three takeaways that got the Bucks the win.

The Milwaukee Bucks dominated the Washington Wizards down low, but it was evident that they needed interior reinforcements

Neither team could seemingly buy a 3-point bucket consistently in this one. Milwaukee shot just 12-of-38 (31.6 percent) from long distance, while Washington was just a tick better at 12-of-35 (34.3 percent), which forced both teams to rely heavier on their interior scoring to get the job done. The Bucks outright dominated the battle down low as they outscored the Wizards 56-38 in points in the paint for the matchup.

For the Bucks, most of this damage was done by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis, both of whom were sensational in this one. With the three-ball not falling, these two constantly fought their way to the hoop and scored a bucket. There will be more on Antetokounmpo in a minute, but Portis deserves praise for his bounce-back performance following a sluggish game in Milwaukee’s last outing against the Denver Nuggets. Portis finished with 18 points on 57.1 percent shooting as he finished with a game-high +/- of +21.

On the other side of the ball, allowing 38 paint points is by no means awful for the Bucks, but the way it happened was concerning. Led by Montrezl Harrell, the Wizards clawed their way back into this game by attacking the basket. The former Sixth Man of the Year winner played a pivotal part in Washington’s valiant comeback attempt as the Bucks had no answer to his onslaught down low, which, of course, raised questions about what the champs plan to do to address their lack of size at the center position before the upcoming trade deadline.

Since the Bucks waived DeMarcus Cousins last month, teams have found ways to take advantage of their undersized lineups, which is exactly what happened last night. Antetokounmpo and Portis aside, the Bucks do not have another reliable big man on the roster that is healthy enough to play as Brook Lopez recovers from back surgery. This game was clear-cut evidence that the Bucks need some more size in the interior, and there are a few names they should consider targeting.