Brook Lopez has dominated the first three games for the Milwaukee Bucks

Apr 17, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Remember all of the doom, gloom, and panic about how Brook Lopez would look when he returned from back surgery? I was guilty of it! It was a worrying time for the Milwaukee Bucks as they were without their defensive anchor for most of the season.

Back injuries can always be tricky and Serge Ibaka didn’t (and hasn’t) look like himself when he came back from back surgery. That hasn’t been the case whatsoever for Lopez, who has been easily the Bucks’ second-best player in this series through three games and one of the few bright spots so far.

How Brook Lopez has dominated at both ends through three games for the Milwaukee Bucks

We saw a glimpse of how impactful Lopez could be in a playoff series against the Bulls in their last two meetings of the regular season. In the first game Lopez played against Chicago (his fourth game back from injury, mind you) he had 10 points, six boards, and two blocks in under 24 minutes.

The veteran center turned it up a notch for the last regular season game against the Bulls. He had 28 points on 8-of-10 shooting inside the arc with three blocks and two steals (or five stocks) in under 30 minutes and was a plus-18.

For as good as Nikola Vucevic is, Lopez flat out dominated the former All-Star at both ends. He shot 6-of-10 on 2s against him while holding him to 5-of-16 shooting inside the arc (31.8 percent overall).

He was seen as one of the key difference makers coming into this series and, well, that’s certainly been the case!

Through three games, Lopez has scored 32 total points and shot nearly 62 percent from the field (13-of-21) against Vucevic with two shooting fouls drawn. Defensively, he’s held Vucevic to 9-of-17 inside the arc, forced three turnovers, and hasn’t picked up a shooting foul.

His defense on the Bulls’ center isn’t even Lopez’s best work in this series!

Lopez, being one of the league’s best rim protectors of the last three or four years, has held DeMar DeRozan to 3-of-16 shooting with him as the nearest defender with only two shooting fouls! He’s only blocked DeRozan once, but that also shows how impactful Lopez is defending the rim without needing gaudy blocked shot totals.

It also likely includes some midrange attempts from DeRozan, who notably hit a bunch of them over Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 2. Not on Lopez, however!

Lopez took a backseat offensively in Game 3, after scoring 43 points on 66 percent true shooting through the first two games, with only nine points but his impact was still felt at both ends with two blocks as well. He’ll likely need to bump those point totals up in Games 4 and 5 (at least) without Middleton, but the defense has been huge as well.

It remains incredible how good Lopez looks coming off of back surgery with 12 regular season games under his belt. He has noted that he feels better than ever, which tends to be a bit of a cliché but watching how mobile and spry he looks since coming back, we almost have to consider that it might be true.

Lopez was always going to be the swing piece for the Bucks’ title chances when he came back and how good he looked. What we’ve seen through 15 total games is that they still are one of the best bets to at least get back to the NBA Finals because of Lopez’s impact at both ends of the floor.

Next. 3 Milwaukee Bucks that must step up with Khris Middleton sidelined. dark

Lopez and the Milwaukee Bucks can take a 3-1 stranglehold in this series on Sunday with another road win.