Coming off a nice win over the Charlotte Hornets, the Milwaukee Bucks faced a great test on their home floor with the Denver Nuggets coming to town.
Aiming to avenge a recent road loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Bucks needed to lock in, though they would be shorthanded without Khris Middleton, who is dealing with an ankle injury. Thankfully, that is exactly what they did, having quickly jumped out to a 13-2 lead. Denver battled back, but the Bucks kept their composure.
After a Malik Beasley 3-pointer put the Bucks up 24-23 with 1:31 left in the first quarter, the Bucks never let go of the lead. They built up a lead as big as 28 and kept their foot on the gas throughout. Denver made runs here and there, but Milwaukee always seemed to respond with a timely 3-point make or defensive stop.
In the end, the Bucks secured a 112-95 victory on the first leg of a back-to-back.
Encouraging stat from win over Nuggets bodes well for the Milwaukee Bucks defensively
With Charlotte notching 84 points and Denver tallying 95, the Bucks held their opponents to under 100 points in consecutive games for the first time since... November 2021. Both opponents dealt with injuries against Milwaukee, but still, this is impressive, especially when one of those teams features an incredible offensive talent like Nikola Jokic, who plays for the reigning NBA Champions.
The Bucks have been playing nice defense since Doc Rivers took over as head coach, but as this stat highlights, it's been particularly nice over the past two games. Those two contests have happened to feature newcomer Patrick Beverley, who came aboard in a surprise deal at the NBA Trade Deadline. Coincidence?
Beverley isn't the sole reason the Bucks have reached this feat in back to back games, but having him hasn't hurt either. The point guard has brought his trademark intensity to this team from the moment his plane touched down, and it seems to have spread among the entire team. The Bucks have played much more energized since Beverley's arrival, which is a tremendous sign.
Speaking of defense, one player who needs a shoutout is AJ Green, the sophomore wing who saw time guarding Jamal Murray, a lethal scorer. Green did a nice job against Murray, making things hard for him whenever they matched up. Green's strong play even caught the attention of former Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, who was taken aback by what he saw.
Once he found out, the praise followed.
Green has really been making a name for himself with some extended minutes lately. If he can keep up this excellent defensive play while also shooting the ball as well as he has, there will undoubtedly be a role for him in Milwaukee's rotation.
Speaking of strong play, Giannis Antetokounmpo had an MVP type of performance with 36 points on 73.7 percent shooting while also tallying 18 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks. The Greek Freak had no shortage of highlight-reel-worthy plays in this one, primarily courtesy of several crazy dunks. Against one of the best in the world, this was great stuff from Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Damian Lillard clocked in 18 points and five assists in 22 and a half minutes as he got some key rest ahead of the back-to-back. Bobby Portis gave the bench a boost with 13 points and eight rebounds while also handing out three assists. Despite such a big win, the Bucks only had three double-digit scorers, showing that is truly was a team effort - three Milwaukee players had nine points apiece.
On the other side of things, Nikola Jokic stuffed the stat sheet with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists on 52 percent shooting. Yet, the Bucks did everything they could to take everyone outside of Jokic out of the game. Their next leading scorer was Aaron Gordon with 14 points, while forward Michael Porter Jr. had 11 points on 11 shots. The Milwaukee Bucks played some great defense.
Overall, it was a great win for the Bucks, who have started to put together the pieces on defense as of late here. Hopefully they can keep that trend up when they take on the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
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