Fiserv Forum gave host to a potential NBA Finals preview as the reigning champs faced off against the Golden State Warriors, who have the league’s second best record and are favored by many to represent the West in the championship this year. With a 6:30 p.m. start time, fans rushed to the arena, their favorite bar or their living rooms to see how the two teams would match up in their current form.
If you’re a fan of basketball or a fan of numbers, last night’s game was a dream as the number one ranked defense went against a top five offense, all while #34 and #30 added to their stats for this year’s MVP race. Lucky for Bucks fans, this one was all Milwaukee, as Giannis and company dominated the Warriors in impressive fashion.
Here’s our breakdown of the Bucks’ 118-99 win over the Golden State Warriors by the numbers:
Leading up to Thursday night’s marquee matchup, 1,113 days had passed since the Warriors’ Klay Thompson had last played at Fiserv Forum. Suffering a brutal ACL tear in his left knee followed by a damaging achilles injury in the past couple years, Thompson was recently welcomed back to the court this month with cheers from across the NBA.
Although his peers on the Bucks we’re happy to see a healthy Klay, the team made it a priority to contain his deadly shooting. The plan paid off as Milwaukee held Klay to just three made field goals on 11 shots throughout the game.
The story going into the game was the marquee matchup on national television. However the story ended up being by just how dominant the Bucks were against Golden State. After the first half of play, Milwaukee led the Warriors by 39 points, which was Golden State’s largest half-time deficit since the team moved to California in 1962.
+27 for Bobby Portis
A big reason the Bucks were so productive in the first half was due to the play of Bobby Portis. The Bucks were at their best when Bobby was on the court, as he was +27 for the night and scored 20 points on 50 percent shooting, including a huge buzzer beater to close out the second half.
With the Bucks’ big win over Golden State, the team is now only 2.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee not only has almost half a season to pass Chicago in the standings, but all four matchups against the Bulls this season are in the coming months. With new additions like the MVP candidate DeMar DeRozan and the feisty Alex Caruso, the Bulls are no pretenders, but it will be interesting to see how the two teams matchup when head to head.
If Milwaukee versus Golden State alone wasn’t worth the price of admission, Thursday night’s game was also a chance to see two of the three leaders in the MVP race on the same court. Currently Giannis’ MVP odds, according to BetMGM, are +750, meaning that if you bet $100 on Giannis to win his third MVP title, you would win $750.
Although Giannis is having an MVP caliber year, Las Vegas believes that this is the year of Steph Curry. Halfway through the season, Steph is the definitive favorite to win the NBA MVP title, with odds of +135. Giannis leads Steph in points per game, rebounds, field goal percentage and blocks. Curry beats Giannis in terms of steals and overall team record, but averages only 0.1 more assists per game as a guard. The narrative is certainly in support of Steph Curry – but it’s still anyone's award to win.
Following Thursday night’s game, however, this money line may change a bit as Giannis was by far the superior player in the one-game sample.
30 points for Giannis
The Greek Freak led all scorers on Thursday night with 30 points in 30 minutes. Our MVP also led all players in assists (11) and rebounds (12), making last night his third triple double of the season.
To no surprise, Giannis has been lighting up the scoreboard for the Bucks and is third in scoring throughout the league with 28.5 ppg. If the season ended today, Giannis would finish with his second best season in terms of scoring.
2 three-pointers for Curry
Although it was inevitable, Steph Curry cemented his status as the greatest shooter of all time when he passed former Milwaukee Buck Ray Allen to become the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers. Lucky for Milwaukee, the Bucks had the answer Thursday night and were able to contain Curry to just two made three-point field goals.
38 games left
With roughly half of the season left to go, the Bucks have 38 games remaining to fight for playoff position to ensure the best possible route back to the NBA Finals. Milwaukee’s star trio of Giannis, Jrue and Khris have been near unstoppable when playing together, and fans hope that they can keep that momentum going with another deep playoff run come summertime!