ORLANDO, Florida — After splitting the first two games of the series, the Milwaukee Bucks stormed out of the gates and took a 2-1 series lead over the Orlando Magic. Despite slower starts in the first two games, Milwaukee had one of their best statistical showings of their restart. The Bucks have now won back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 28th and March 1st.
What Went Down:
Nikola Vucevic was firing early, scoring Orlando’s first 7 points. As their primary option on offense, it already looked like he had another big game in his bag. Milwaukee responded, firing back with a 15-3 run to force a timeout late in the frame. The Bucks also scored 31 in the first, their first time this series they scored above their first quarter season average of 29.
The second quarter started in one way: fast. Antetokounmpo galloped into the open court multiple times for easy finishes at the rim. After an 11-4 run to start, Steve Clifford called for timeout. Khris Middleton had his best 1st half of the series, contributing 10, with Giannis finishing the half with a perfect 8-8 FG (2-2 3PT). TNT’s Stan Van Gundy said it best as halftime started: “This is great Bucks basketball!”
The third quarter swayed more in favor of the Magic, as they cut the lead to 19 at one point. Nothing exceptional stood out for Milwaukee in this frame, but they still maintained a 22 point lead heading into the 4th.
Orlando cut the lead to 12 with seven minutes to go, causing Milwaukee to respond. A quick pair of free throws from Giannis and a three from Lopez brought the lead back to 17. Milwaukee kept adding on, and finally put the game away with 3:33 up by 23.
With all that in mind, the most notable event from the 1st half did not involve stats or runs. Marvin Williams and James Ennis got into a scuffle with 5:39 in the 2nd quarter. On a loose ball, Williams was inadvertently shoved by Ennis after being tied up, and quickly followed back with a push back. The Bucks coaching staff, specifically Darvin Ham, tried to step in the middle, but Ennis swatted through to release Williams from holding onto his jersey. The referees issued technicals to each player and ejected both Williams and Ennis.
— Bally Sports Wisconsin (@BallySportWI) August 22, 2020
- Giannis had his most efficient game in recent memory, pouring in 35 points on 12-14 shooting, 2-3 3PT, 9-12 FT, adding 11 rebounds and 7 assists.
- Khris Middleton improved on his lackluster Game 2 with 17 points on 7-17 shooting.
- Lopez added 16, while Bledsoe also contributed 14.
- DJ Augustin led the Magic with 24 points off the bench.
Giannis and his Roar
Can we all sign something that requires Giannis to pound his chest and yell at the top of his lungs after every dunk? Moments like that make Bucks fans forget about all struggles and hardships. All we can do? Smile.
Giannis is very good at basketball. pic.twitter.com/5ErLYCTO4l
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 22, 2020
Money Middleton…On The Way Back?
Bucks fans should be encouraged with flashes from Khris Middleton. There were multiple isolation plays ending in scores that will hopefully raise his confidence. His statistics may not jump off the page from this game (see Stats), but this can definitely be used as a stepping stone moving forward.
Bud’s Special Lineup
A lineup of George Hill, Donte Divencenzo, Kyle Korver, Pat Connaughton and Giannis Antetokounmpo was used in spurts throughout the game. The offense flowed well with these five, so it would not be surprising to see this same group used throughout the playoffs.
Game 4 will be on Monday, August 24th at 1:30 p.m. E.T. on NBATV.