Bucks vs Brooklyn | Opening Day

Updated: October 19, 2021

A 37 point 1st quarter for the Bucks on Brooklyn started off our 2021-22 season. Even with the Nets deciding to go with their biggest lineup, KD at the 3, Blake Griffin at the 4, and Clackson at 5, Giannis dominated the boards on both ends of the floor. A silver lining though for the Nets was their new addition off the bench in Patty Mills looks like a perfect fit to add a scoring punch into the second unit.

Coming out into the 2nd quarter, Steve Nash had set his squad’s intention on gang rebounding in the paint to offset the Giannis rebounding domination. A sight though that should strike fear to everyone defensive coordinator in the league, is any time Giannis had single coverage on him near the paint, he was scoring with ease. Especially with the Bucks’ others looking wet from beyond the arc, it appears to be a pick your poison situation.

In the non-Antetokounmpo minutes of the 2nd quarter, Durant started to cook inside and out, going on a 12-0 run. But as if it were a train on schedule, the Brooklyn run was stopped by an And-1 finish at the rim by Giannis right through the tin frame of one Kevin Durant. Brooklyn looked resilient though and continued to score as the news that Jrue Holiday would not return to the game after a right heel contusion. A once 19-point lead had been cut down to 7 going into halftime.

After barreling into Blake Griffin in transition, Giannis landed painfully on his right wrist as he hit the wooden floor. He was slowed to get to his feet as he flexed his right hand, but he followed the collision by draining both free throws, so he appeared to be fine. One-on-one in transition against Durant, rather than running into him as he did in the possession before opted to put a generous glaze of English off the glass making Durant look helpless against the Antetokounmpo attack. If it couldn’t be any scarier, Giannis’ jumper that he flashed consistently in the preseason appears not to be a fluke as he continued to stroke it confidence.

Durant hit his 21 first point on a deep 3 with 6 and a half remaining in the 3rd, but they felt quiet. His overall dominance had yet to be felt except in the few minutes Giannis was on the bench in the 2nd. With 5 minutes left in the 3rd, the Bucks pushed their lead back to 12 with a Giannis’ 6th made free throw. He has now shaved his routine down to a clean one dribble and fire free-throw rather than the ridiculous 10-second process that had been famous in the last season’s playoffs. Even with the Bucks resting him at the end of the 3rd quarter they still managed to maintain a 12-point lead.

At the 10-minute mark, Patty Mills hit his 7th of 7 jumpers from 3 for his 21st point of the game. With his production and confidence, it is going to be a question moving forward if they just want to slot him in next to Harden for their starting backcourt and commit to going small. Clackson at the 5 might as well had been 6’6 inside with how easily Giannis went through him at the hoop throughout the home opener.

With 4 minutes left in the quarter and down by 14, Steve Nash decided to wave the white flag and take out all his stars. Bud did exactly the opposite and brought Giannis back into the game to pad his stats for his MVP candidacy. To be fair, Giannis had been sitting in preparation for his late-game push and they are trying to get the machine well-oiled and ready. With 2 and a half left, after a short reentry, Antetokounmpo was taken out for his standing ovation.

Giannis and Durant’s stats were similar {32 points, 14 boards, 7 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal for Giannis. 32 points and 11 rebounds for Durant}. The big difference though was the majority of Antetokounmpo’s rebounds were stolen offensive boards that dictated the pace of the game—that and Giannis was clearly without question the best defender on the floor for either side of the competition. It’s early, only the first game of the season, and there is no reason to put too much weight in a single game. But we need to start acknowledging that the Giannis’ jumper is for real and was not a preseason fluke. Forget the shot from distance, his 15-foot jumper looks pure and confident. Who the best player in the East can be debated back and forth from these two freaks of nature, but the one from Greece has now become must-watch TV with his new weapons on the offensive end.

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