5 takeaways from Friday night's rematch between the Bucks and Warriors
It didn't go in the favor of the Bucks, but Friday night's matchup against the Golden State Warriors was more than entertaining – and, if Bucks fans are lucky, a preview of what's to come in June.
Last month, the Bucks handed the Warriors their biggest loss of the season and came into Friday night's performance as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. With Giannis celebrating his birthday weekend, there could be no better gift than sweeping the two-time defending champions in front of a home crowd. But the Bucks fell a little short. Losing, 105-95, in a relatively low scoring shootout, the Bucks failed to dominate the Warriors like they did in Oakland.
Here are our five takeaways from the Bucks' home loss to Golden State:
1. Eric Bledsoe's performance is key
Eric Bledsoe led the Bucks with 24 points when the Warriors hosted the Bucks in November. He was highly efficient, and with his help, the Bucks destroyed the Warriors on their home court.
One month later, the Bucks fell short against the Warriors in Milwaukee while Bledsoe only put up 14 points, 10 less than last month's matchup with a 10-point loss tonight, and a minus-6 plus-minus. When Bledsoe does well, the team does well – and the reverse is true, as well.
The Greek Freak may be the face of the Bucks, but this season has proved that Eric Bledsoe's success is just as valuable to the team. Bledsoe didn't have the game of his life on Friday, but he certainly has been hot lately, so let's hope he continues to meet the high expectations he has set for himself for the rest of the season and beyond.
2. The depth of Golden State is no joke
If you told Coach Budenholzer that the Bucks would have held Kevin Durant to just 11 points, he would have been pretty confident going into last night's game. But to no one's surprise, the Warriors are stacked from top to bottom.
With multiple MVP candidates on one roster, not even including DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green currently inactive, you have to pick your poison when going against Golden State.
Even though Durant had an off night, and although Steph Curry's totals were relatively vanilla by his standards, the Warriors collectively did just enough to hold onto a lead the majority of the game.
3. Three-point shooting needs to improve
Although the Bucks dominated the paint against Golden State in November, scoring more points in the paint against the Warriors than any team in the Steve Kerr era, Friday night came down to who could shoot better.
The Warriors shot over 40 percent from the 3-point line and made a total of 19 3-pointers while the Bucks made just seven, shooting only 18 percent. The Bucks hung around the entire game, but it's hard to catch up to a team like Golden State when you're counting by two and they are counting by three.
Though they've made improvements since last season, the Bucks aren't quite built to be 3-point juggernauts like the Warriors. They'll certainly need to shoot better than Friday night to make a deep run into the playoffs. If Golden State can force the Bucks to play their game, they'll win every time.
4. Giannis > KD
Last night was more evidence of what fans in Milwaukee already know: Giannis is better than Kevin Durant. With a ton of similarities in their game and their physical build, the spotlight was on the Greek Freak and KD from the very start.
Although the two didn't cover each other the entire night, it was more than entertaining to watch the two go head-to-head. Last time Giannis got the better end of Durant – and Friday was no exception, even in a losing effort.
Though Durant put up a better plus-minus, Giannis doubled Durant's point totals, despite shooting one less shot. The Greek Freak also had nearly double the amount of rebounds.
There is no doubt that Kevin Durant is one of the best players in the league, but it's comforting to know that our #1 is out performing the two-time NBA Playoffs MVP.
5. The Bucks are practicing for June
If history is any indication, and if the game was played on paper, the Warriors are the clear favorite to represent the West in the NBA Finals. And although fans don't necessarily have a championship or bust mentality for the Bucks, there is no reason to think that the Bucks can't get to and win the Eastern Conference Finals.
Milwaukee has performed well against the top teams in the East (and the West), and with LeBron now in the Western Conference, it's anyone's guess who will represent the East this season. Why not Milwaukee, right?
With Milwaukee and Golden State splitting their season series, 1-1, who wouldn't love to see the Bucks' next matchup with the Warriors come in June?
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