3 takeaways from Milwaukee Bucks’ action-packed win over Phoenix Suns

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 06 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 06 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Serge Ibaka, Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MARCH 06 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Yesterday afternoon marked the first time that the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns would hit the floor at Fiserv Forum since Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals. Both teams were set to be playing without a handful of key pieces this time around due to injuries. The Bucks were without their trio of Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, and George Hill, while the Suns were missing Cameron Johnson, Devin Booker, and Chris Paul. Given the Phoenix’s top two players were sidelined, Milwaukee was favored heavily to win this particular meeting.

Despite the Suns’ key absences, they started this game strong and even led the Bucks by three at halftime. The second half was a back and forth battle as the two teams repeatedly exchanged the lead throughout before the Bucks managed to take a one-point advantage heading into the fourth. It was in that final period that Milwaukee finally started to look like themselves and took care of business, defeating Phoenix 132-122. Credit must be given to the shorthanded Suns for giving the Bucks a run for their money, but it was great to see the champs deliver another late-game win.

With all that being said, let us take a look at three takeaways from the thrilling contest.

Serge Ibaka looked comfortable in his best game with the Milwaukee Bucks yet

Prior to Sunday’s tip-off, there were some questions lingering about Milwaukee’s trade deadline acquisition of Serge Ibaka. The center had been hit or miss in his extended minutes since coming aboard, but he certainly made a statement with a strong showing against the Suns in what many would consider his best game in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform yet.

Offensively, Ibaka was fantastic by tallying 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 1-of-2 from behind the arc. Given that he attempted just two triples, most of Ibaka’s damage was done in the restricted area or close to the hoop. It looked like Ibaka had found chemistry with Khris Middleton as the pair connected on several possessions that saw the big man score, which was welcoming.

A big reason behind Ibaka’s increased scoring output was the presence he provided on the glass, hauling in 10 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive end. Ibaka scored a game-high seven second-chance points due to this prolific rebounding, having provided a significant scoring punch off the bench that the champs desperately needed.

In addition to his scoring and rebounding, Ibaka made two key plays defensively that helped the Bucks secure this victory. The first was a huge block on Mikal Bridges with the game tied at 113 and just under five and a half minutes left to play, and the second was yet another massive block on Phoenix’s Landry Shamet about two minutes later while Milwaukee led by two points. Having Ibaka out on the floor late in the game for his defensive worked to perfection for the Bucks in this one, coming up with two massive blocked shots.

While it is just one game, this is clearly a positive sign for Ibaka as he looks to find his footing with the Bucks. There have been some noticeable growing pains along the way, but this is a step in the right direction for the big man without question.