The Milwaukee Bucks had a back-to-back weekend. After thoroughly dispatching the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, they returned home to the Fiserv Fortress, to take on the Orlando Magic. Except, this game didn’t go quite the way most thought it would.
Head coach Mike Budenholzer did some roster management in both games. He sat All-Star forward Khris Middleton on Friday night, citing “load management.” (The NBA’s equivalent to the NHL’s “lower body injury”) He then sat their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo because of right knee soreness. After a dominating 29 points, 17 rebounds, and 5 assists the night prior, it seemed like a good idea to Giannis and prevent some of the wear and tear on that knee. Keyword is: seemed.
The Bucks raced out to an 8-0 lead on the Magic early in the first quarter. Milwaukee then proceeded to 32 percent from the field (including 6/35 from three) and suffered a 20 point loss. (103-83, yeesh!) Some nights shots go down, this was not one of those nights.
The neurotic part of the Bucks fan base and Bucks haters everywhere were waiting for a game like this one. A game where they can overreact. A game where they say the Bucks are nothing without Giannis. A game where they claim the team isn’t as good as everyone thinks. A game where they proclaim, “the same ole’ Bucks.” Those folks revel in the misery of others and have not a rational thought amongst them.
The Bucks have won without Giannis, they’ve made comebacks in games with Giannis on the bench. They’ve furthered leads with Giannis on the bench. This is a good team from the starting five to the end of the bench. (Nikola Mirotic hasn’t even played a minute for the Bucks yet. Let that soak in.) This was a good team who didn’t play (or shoot) well, in one of 82 games. This isn’t the end of the world for Milwaukee and to assume so is laughable and incredibly annoying.
The Bucks have another opportunity to avoid losing back-to-back games when they head to Chicago to take on the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. (Bucks are the only team in the NBA to not have lost two games in a row.) Milwaukee is 41-14 (best record in the NBA) and will more than likely have their full compliment of players, including Mirotic, for that game. They are fine.
Detractors everywhere are looking for a reason to discredit the Bucks. Keep searching, because Saturday night’s anomaly wasn’t it.F