MILWAUKEE — In the final minute of the first quarter on Wednesday night, Giannis Antetokounmpo drove to the basket and lost control of the ball on the way up. Most players would have been on their way to a turnover in that situation, but Giannis somehow managed to bat the ball back up and into the basket – an impressive finish though not particularly memorable given his standards. It was notable, however, in that it gave the Bucks a 32-30 lead, and proved to be the winning basket.
The Bucks never trailed again, and generally coasted to a 126-114 win over the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies. Though Ja Morant and Co. were able to make things interesting with a late run, the Bucks led by double-digits for the majority of the game, and their 12-3 closing burst put things away in convincing fashion.
After a rough few weeks for the Bucks – 3-6 in their past nine games – Wednesday night’s win was a reminder of why, despite sitting in fourth place, they’re still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
Bucks keep crushing great teams
On New Year’s Day, the Bucks cruised to a 23-point win over the New Orleans Pelicans to improve to a season-best 25-13. Since then, they’re just 3-6, including a shocking loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons. The cold streak has dropped them to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
It goes without saying that no one on the Bucks is thrilled with such a poor run of form. In particular, they’ve been scratching their heads at their inability to consistently put together 48 good minutes of basketball. But things aren’t quite as bad as that 3-6 mark might indicate. For one, all of those losses were by single digits.
As for those three wins? Well, they’ve all come against other great teams, and they’ve all come in borderline dominant fashion. They beat the Brooklyn Nets by 12, the Golden State Warriors by 19, and the Grizzlies by 12. That’s three of the top-seven teams in the league, and they led by at least 18 points in each game and trailed for a combined five minutes and nine seconds.
“We show up to…