Talk about a statement.
Following a tough loss to the Boston Celtics in their season-opener, the Milwaukee Bucks bounced back in a big way, defeating the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day by a final score of 138-99.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks in scoring with 31 points while Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double and Jrue Holiday chipped in with 12 points, six assists and five rebounds.
For more on the game, here are some quick thoughts...
1. Welcome to the James Wiseman show
It didn't take Wiseman long to show off his potential in this one.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft had it going early with seven quick points to start the game. He got the Warriors on the scoreboard with a couple of free throws and followed it up soon after with a dunk...
DASHING THROUGH THE LANE 💥- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) December 25, 2020
📺 ABC pic.twitter.com/uR29AZSMqA
...and a 3-pointer.
James is making a #SPLASH💦 in his #NBAXmas debut.- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) December 25, 2020
📺 ABC pic.twitter.com/YZKU0phGJN
Wiseman did more of the same in the second quarter, bringing his point total to 14 at the half, making him Golden State's second-leading scorer behind only Stephen Curry (15).
Wiseman also came up with an impressive block in the first half.
Nice block from Wiseman immediately coming over after Wiggins bites on the pump fake. Augustin has go to to put that one on the glass though. pic.twitter.com/oS9dLUhhx6- Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) December 25, 2020
Wiseman is only two games into his NBA career, but his ability to play inside and out on offence as a 7-footer while having all the physical tools to anchor a defence is quite appealing. It's going to be fun watching him put it all together this season.
2. Stephen Curry, moving on up
With a 3-pointer in the second quarter...
Steph #SPLASH💦 like clockwork. pic.twitter.com/pM3JzSTOdQ- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) December 25, 2020
...Curry became the second-leading scorer in franchise history for the Warriors, passing NBA legend Rick Barry.
The only player now ahead of Curry? Wilt Chamberlain, by around 1,300 points.
Health provided, Curry will have a shot at moving into that No. 1 spot before the end of the 2020-21 season.
3. It's the little things
Holiday isn't a big back-to-the-basket scorer or anything - he generated 1.2 percent of his offence in the post last season, per NBA.com - but he is more than capable of using his size to attack a mismatch in the post.
Case in point:
Forbes splashes it in from distance. pic.twitter.com/bhnjHoTXMJ- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 25, 2020
That's not something the Bucks had last season. We might not see much of Holiday mismatch hunting in the regular season, but having that option will come in handy in the playoffs, where Milwaukee's halfcourt offence has struggled in each of the last two postseasons.
4. Khris Middleton, lighting it up
You didn't forget about Middleton, did you?
With Antetokounmpo struggling from both the field and free throw line in the first half, it was Middleton who took over for the Bucks. He had it rolling in both the first and second quarter, resulting in him scoring 21 of Milwaukee's 66 points at the half.
21 for #22! @Khris22m has the @Bucks up at the half on ABC. #NBAXmas pic.twitter.com/MN0pnLqafy- NBA (@NBA) December 25, 2020
Middleton kept his foot on the gas in the third quarter, pouring in 10 more points.
When he checked out of the game with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter, Middleton had 31 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals on 10-for-15 shooting from the field and 6-for-8 from 3-point range in 25 minutes of action. Plus-minus is far from a perfect stat, but the Bucks outscoring the Warriors by 21 points during his time on the court speaks to the impact he was able to make.
Not a bad day in the office for the two-time All-Star.
5. Christmas Day hasn't been kind to Curry
Curry entered this game with averages of 12.3 points per game on 29.2 percent shooting from the field and 20.5 percent from 3-point range on Christmas Day.
Yeah ... not great.
While he moved up on the franchise's all-time scoring list and had a couple of impressive plays - there was a deep 3-pointer to close the first half and a nasty move that shook Holiday out of his shoes in the third quarter - it was otherwise another quiet Christmas Day game for Curry.
His totals in this one? 19 points on 6-for-17 shooting from the field and 2-for-10 from 3-point range.
These Warriors simply don't have the firepower to overcome that sort of performance from Curry, especially against a team as dominant as the Bucks. The only other players on the Warriors to score in double figures were Wiseman (18), Andrew Wiggins (12), Jordan Poole (11) and Brad Wanamaker (11).
6. The Warriors need more from Kelly Oubre Jr.
The Warriors need a lot more from everyone, but it's been a particularly rough start to the season for Oubre. After scoring six points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field against the Brooklyn Nets in Golden State's season-opener, Oubre was limited to three points on 1-for-10 shooting against the Bucks on Christmas Day.
Oubre is coming off of a season in which he averaged a career best 18.7 points per game on .452/.352/.511 shooting splits. He had more 20-point games last season (24) than the first four seasons of his career combined (23).
The Warriors need that version of Oubre to have any chance of being good enough on offence to make the playoffs in the Western Conference this season.
7. What's next
Both teams are back in action on Saturday, with the Bucks slated to take on the New York Knicks and the Warriors taking on the Chicago Bulls.
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