Milwaukee Bucks guard shows his impact goes beyond just shooting in win over 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers v Milwaukee Bucks
Philadelphia 76ers v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Coming off a grueling 1-3 West Coast road trip where they looked completely discombobulated, the Milwaukee Bucks returned to Fiserv Forum desperately in need of a win.

They welcomed in the Philadelphia 76ers, who were shorthanded, playing without Joel Embiid as he recovers from a mid-season knee procedure. Milwaukee would be playing without key pieces as well, with Khris Middleton and Malik Beasley both sidelined. Middleton has been out for a while now, but it was surprising see Beasley listed as out on the injury report with back spasms.

For much of the game, the Bucks played like they were still on that road trip, falling into a double-digit hole on multiple occasions. Yet, the team buckled down late in the third and clawed their way back in, eventually reclaiming the lead for good just above the midway point of the final frame. Clicking late, the Bucks got a big bounce-back win with a 114-105 victory on their home floor.

Milwaukee Bucks guard shows his impact goes beyond just shooting in win over 76ers

With Beasley out of the lineup, someone else on the roster would see extended time to eat at those vacant minutes. Unsurprisingly, that player was guard AJ Green, who has been poking in and out of the rotation under Rivers. The sophomore two-guard logged a career-high 28 minutes, and he took advantage of every single one.

Offensively, Green showed off his range by knocking in three triples in seven attempts and was also fouled on another, which led to three free throws. With a mid-range jumper to go along with it, Green tallied 14 points off of the bench, giving the Milwaukee Bucks a significant spark they needed with an excellent shooter in Beasley unable to provide a similar spark.

Yet, Green's offensive output should not overshadow what he did defensively. Though he did not take Philadelphia's Tyrese Maxey out of the game, he did a great job against a player who was in a groove for most of the matchup. Matchup stats can be wonky at times, but Green was credited with holding Maxey to 1-of-3 shooting, the second-best on the team among players he shot against.

If Green can keep shooting the ball well while simultaneously playing quality defense, there must be a role for him in the Milwaukee Bucks rotation consistently.

Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the show with 32 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, but what really stood out was his efficiency. Not only was the Greek Freak 14-of-18 (77.8 percent) from the free throw line, but he was also 9-of-12 from the floor. The 76ers had no answer on the interior, paving the way for Antetokounmpo to have a field day down low.

Brook Lopez, who has been in a bit of a slump lately, found his stride in this one, but rather than being a dominant threat down low, he was lethal from downtown. The center knocked in five 3-pointers en route to a 19-point performance. His contributions did not stop there, as Lopez stuffed the stat sheet with seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal to cap off an excellent performance.

Damian Lillard came up just short of a double-double, notching 17 points and nine assists. He got in on the action defensively with a steal and a block, the latter of which came on his former teammate in Cameron Payne, who was shipped at the NBA Trade Deadline. Even when he's not putting points on the board in a hurry, it's great to see Lillard make an impact in other areas, especially defensively.

Providing help off of the bench alongside Green, Pat Connaughton continued his recent stretch of solid play with nine points, four assists and three rebounds. Passing and playmaking have never been key aspects of Connaughton's game, but he was a maestro in this game, finding open shooters, such as Green on a pretty pass to the corner, or the open man down low.

On the other side of the floor, Maxey scored 30 points in a full display of his offensive arsenal, hitting triples while also attacking the rim with authority. Tobias Harris helped him out with 15, and Payne had 13 off of the bench, but it was not enough to overcome the Bucks.

Ultimately, this was a much-needed bounce-back win for the Bucks, and they have to keep the ball rolling in crucial matchups against the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns ahead.

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