Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Playoffs, Orlando Magic

Bucks even series with Magic behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s big night


The Milwaukee Bucks avenged their Game 1 loss to the Orlando Magic with a win in Game 2.

After a surprising Game 1 loss to the Orlando Magic, the Milwaukee Bucks came back with a vengeance to tie their first-round series at 1-1, winning Game 2 by 15 points. The two teams traded buckets early, but the Bucks soon turned up the proverbial heat defensively, running up a 23-point lead midway through the second quarter while the Magic were unable to score themselves.

Late in the game, the Magic were able to put together a bit of a run, cutting the lead to nine, but at that point it was too late. It was not as dominant of a performance as Milwaukee fans would have hoped, but they have righted the course after a disappointing Game 1 and now appear in control of the series, if not as firmly as anticipated.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was the catalyst, finishing his night with 28 points, 20 rebounds and five assists.

Final

Orlando Magic

96

Milwaukee Bucks

111

What else did you miss in Game 2 between the Bucks and Magic?

Least Valuable Player(s): Everyone on the Magic not named Nikola Vucevic

The Magic lost this game in large part to their inability to convert any shots. At the end of the first quarter, the team had only made three of their 24 field goal attempts and only marginally improved in the second quarter, going 8-for-21. No matter where they shot from, they were unable to make those shots.

In the first quarter, they were somehow 0-for-9 from within the paint, while they also made just one of their 16 3-point attempts in the first half. There was even a spell where the Magic missed 19 of their last 20 field goals until that horrible dry spell was broken when Terrence Ross flipped in a shot near the basket midway through the second quarter. Vucevic was the Magic’s lone bright spot on offense, scoring 32 points while shooting 13-of-23 from the field. Meanwhile, everyone else on the roster shot a combined 18-of-66. It was all very bad.

Unsung hero: Pat Connaughton

Pat Connaughton looked truly great coming off the bench for the Bucks Thursday night, giving them 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from deep. He also added 11 rebounds and finished with a team-high plus/minus of plus-16. Khris Middleton scored just two points, while Marvin Williams, George Hill and Robin Lopez only scored a combined six points off the bench, so Connaughton’s contributions were quite necessary.

He played a major role in the Bucks’ initial pulling away in the first half, as 12 of his 15 points came in the second quarter. It’s a major testament to Milwaukee’s depth that even on a night when Middleton and several other Bucks didn’t offer as much as expected, a player like Connaughton can pick up the slack.

Coaching Strategy: Trying to wall Giannis off from the paint

In an attempt to slow down the reigning MVP, Magic head coach Steve Clifford tried to put a wall of defenders along the free-throw line in order to stop him from getting easy buckets. It sort of worked, as he did not shoot particularly well — going 10-for-23 — but it also created a number of open shots for his teammates, who took full advantage.

Even with that strategy in place, Giannis still found moments to do what he does best, such as a moment early in the fourth quarter when Gary Clark met him at the free-throw line, prompting Giannis to spin around Clark before authoritatively dunking on him.

The Greek Freak still ended up with 28 points, 20 rebounds and five assists, and yet, it’s hard to imagine a much better strategy moving forward. There’s a reason he’s the MVP after all.

Next: 2020 NBA Draft Lottery results



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