What was promised as one of the most interesting and exciting games of the morning ended up being a real ride. The visit of the Golden State Warriors to the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee ended with a beating by the reigning champions of Steve Kerr’s team, whom they defeated 118-99 to shake off the thorn of recent setbacks. The final score, however, does not fully reflect how uneven the clash was, in which the locals rolled from start to finish and could have finished with a much larger advantage.
Without going any further, the Bucks closed the first half winning by 39 points (77-38), a fact that speaks for itself about what the first two quarters were. The group trained by Budenholzer, who returned to the bench after abandoning the security protocols, completely annulled those from San Francisco, who were completely outmatched and were a mere caricature of themselves. Lacking the ability to find any fluidity on offense or consistency on defense, the Warriors couldn’t help but watch their opponent drift further and further away and be subdued time after time by Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Without Draymond Green in front to try to slow him down, the Greek had a real feast. Playing point guard at times in the absence of Jrue Holiday, Giannis did everything on the court, and finished with some 30 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and 3 blocks that are a true reflection of his dominance, numbers he reached in less than 30 minutes as he was able to afford to rest for much of the second half.
Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis, with 23 and 20 points, supported their performance thanks to their great success from the outside, as they finished with 5 and 4 triples respectively in 7 attempts each. Specifically, the pivot closed the first half with a three-pointer at the buzzer that left his team close to a historic moment, as they were only 2 points away from achieving the biggest beating at halftime in franchise history. This, however, is a record that they have established this year, because in their match against the Magic on November 22 they went to the locker room scoring 41 points (77-36).
“I think we have been very focused tonight,” said Budenholzer. “I think that when we dominate defensively, that’s when we work best. A team like these Warriors and players like Steph or Klay bring out the best in you and make you come out more involved.
Quite the opposite can be said of Golden State, which has suffered a severe setback that enhances this stretch of the calendar in which the results are not coming to an end. Kerr’s men have lost four of their last five games, which has caused them to lose the leadership of the league and that right now they are as close to third place as first (1.5 games difference). And it’s not just about results, the sensations are also quite different from those of that team that started the year dominating all the others, a version that, luckily for them, they have time to recover.
Stephen Curry, who finished with 12 points, is in a certain way a reflection of the hard time his team is going through, although the truth is that his teammates didn’t shine enough to single him out either. Andrew Wiggins finished top scorer with 16 points, and Jonathan Kuminga was second with 15, all in the irrelevant second half. Klay Thompson, for his part, stayed at 11 after an inaccurate shooting night (3/11), but continued to accumulate minutes that allowed him to recover his physical condition after his very long absence.
“I know we have taken a beating. We are in a difficult phase of the season »Kerr acknowledged, who however did not want to dramatize this bump too much. “It happens to all teams every year with very few exceptions. We are on a difficult run and we have found a team that has gone all out and had a great first half. We are a bit flustered. We need to pick up momentum again, and I have no doubt that we will.”
(Cover photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)