Brook Lopez’s importance was on display in Milwaukee Bucks’ latest win

Apr 5, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

With a commanding 127-106 victory over the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks officially swept the 2021-22 regular season series against their Central Division rivals. There were plenty of positive takeaways from this contest, but the most significant among the bunch was the impressive production from Milwaukee’s man in the middle, Brook Lopez.

Assessing Brook Lopez’s impressive night as the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the rivaling Chicago Bulls on the road

Lopez’s most notable contribution to Milwaukee’s win was his scoring, as he led that category with a season-high 28 points. The center asserted himself offensively early on, attacking the hoop from start to finish as he tallied 16 of his 28 points in the paint. It is no secret that the Bucks have turned Lopez into a stretch-five as he has been given the greenest light from downtown, but as he shot just 1-of-4 from three that night, the big man focused more on attacking the paint. Due to his aggressiveness inside, Lopez also earned nine free throw attempts for the contest, all of which he knocked down. Rarely will Lopez lead the Bucks in scoring for a game, but it was welcoming to see him do it last night as his scoring production helped propel this 21-point victory.

While Lopez’s contributions on offense were the most notable, he also made a significant impact on the defensive side of the basketball with his three blocks and two steals. Chicago players shot just 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) from the floor while being defended by Lopez to score 14 total points, which highlighted his impact defensively.

A sizeable portion of those numbers came during Lopez’s time guarding Chicago’s starting center in Nikola Vucevic, who scored just two points on 1-of-11 shooting, including 0-of-3 from behind the arc while tallying a pair of turnovers across the six minutes they were matched up. Lopez took Vucevic out of the game entirely, making life tough for him whenever he touched the basketball.

Though Lopez will not score 28 points or hold his primary opponent to 9.1 percent shooting every single night, his importance on both ends was on full display in the win. Offensively, Lopez is more than capable of imposing his will on any given night, even if his 3-point shot is not falling. With the surplus of scorers on the team like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton, the big man does not always get a chance to shine, but his performance against the Bulls showed that he could occasionally take a game over on that end of the floor.

Defensively, Lopez is incredibly valuable for the Bucks. The former All-Defensive selection can not only defend the opposing team’s center at a high level, but he can also protect the interior like few others in this league can. Due to Lopez’s absence this season with the back surgery, the Bucks had to play virtually the entire season without his interior presence defensively, but their paint defense has noticeably been better since he returned to the lineup late last month.

In 10 appearances since returning from back surgery, Lopez is averaging 12.1 points while hitting 46.3 percent of his field goals and 31.7 percent of his 3-pointers while tallying 3.7 rebounds and a blocked shot in 22.6 minutes per game. In addition to maintaining his defensive excellence, a huge focus for Lopez down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs should be searching for a rhythm from behind the arc, as that shot could be his biggest individual X-factor.

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For now, it is incredibly welcoming to see the big man back on the floor playing great basketball for the Milwaukee Bucks.