The Milwaukee Bucks went 2-1 last week and had a very interesting seven days.
Their schedule started with a victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday. Antetokounmpo fouled out late in the game, but Grayson Allen played the hero. He drilled a three in the final seconds to give Milwaukee the lead for good.
On Friday night, they took on the Los Angeles Lakers in front of a national television audience. It was a high-scoring affair that the Bucks weren’t happy with. The Lakers emerged behind great performances from Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. Oh, and Khris Middleton returned.
Introducing the Bucks Film Room Dictionary, Khris Middleton’s return and Brook’s blocks. Here is the latest news about the Milwaukee Bucks.
Mike Budenholzer pulled a classic move in their next game on Saturday, sitting Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Middleton against the Hornets. Nevertheless, Milwaukee prevailed!
Here are some Bucks’ notes from last week.
Bucks Film Room Dictionary
I released a new series called the Bucks Film Room Dictionary on Sunday. With NBA film more prevalent on social media than ever, this weekly series will help you better understand the commonly used terms. Starting with Sideline Out of Bounds (SLOB), I’ll work through many terms as the season progresses.
Khris Middleton’s Return
We last saw Middleton playing basketball against the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. It’s been a long road to recovery since then, including working his way back from knee and wrist injuries. And his return was glorious.
He put up 17 points, seven assists and two rebounds in 27 minutes. The smoothness of his game was missed, as he methodically picked apart the defense. It’s also no coincidence the Bucks had their best offensive game of the season with him back in the fold. His alley-oop to Antetokounmpo had me jumping out of my seat. More to come!
Budenholzer is pulling out more tricks early in the season to spark the Bucks’ middling offense. There’s still work to do, but there are signs of additional ball and player movement, some more designed sets and other creative ways to create scoring opportunities.
One of those is the Spain pick-and-roll. This is a play where a big sets a ball screen for the ball-handler at the three-point line before receiving a back screen from a guard. That guard then quickly pops to the three-point line while his man is helping near the rim on the back screen. The ball-handler can read the defense and pick the open man from the action.
The Bucks used this set following a timeout in the first quarter of games against the Knicks and Lakers. There’s work to be done to iron out the execution, but it’s exciting to see new action being worked on.
Milwaukee has become the NBA’s measuring stick, validating the work a team has put in if they can take down the big, bad Bucks. Seeing the Lakers apply that more than any other team this season was odd. Los Angeles had a slow start to the season, but has been coming on strong lately. Following their victory in Milwaukee–their seventh in nine games–they talked about how far they’ve come and how this was proof. Once upon a time, Antetokounmpo and the young Bucks said the same thing about the Cavaliers and LeBron James.
Give Brook Lopez the Defensive Player of the Year award right now. He’s been ridiculously good this season. He had 11 blocks in three games last week and now has a league-leading 66 on the season. That’s 14 more than second place, the same difference between second and ninth. When he’s not blocking shots, he’s contesting them. He’s defended 500 field goal attempts this season–the next closest is at 429.