The Milwaukee Bucks are dominant when the decks are stacked against them as they were on a tough back-to-back in Toronto earlier this week.
Coming off an overtime game in Washington fewer than 24 hours prior, Milwaukee found themselves down double-digits in the second quarter and found away to claim an 11-point win over the team with the second-best record in the conference.
With that in mind, the Oklahoma City Thunder came to Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee without starting forward Danilo Gallinari and on a back-to-back.
Shorthanded and fatigued, the Bucks took no mercy, comprehensively dominating the Thunder 133-86 to improve to 51-8 on the season.
Giannis puts on a clinic
It was throwback night in Milwaukee, so what better time to get a reminder that fans in Milwaukee are getting the chance to watch the most dominant player to wear a Milwaukee Buck jersey since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored in almost every way possible against the Thunder.
Dunks, lay-ups, mid-range, 3-point line, it didn't matter, the shots went down for the reigning MVP.
Racking up double-doubles in quick time is nothing new for Antetokounmpo, though a 24-point, 10-rebound first half in just 17 minutes all but finished the game.
Rim rockin' #FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/Q3YNqCdXxf- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 29, 2020
A Shai Gilgeous-Alexander floater closed the Thunder to within 46-43 with 4:59 left in the half.
What followed was an Antetokounmpo avalanche, as Milwaukee finished the second quarter on a 24-4 run with 13 of those coming from the Greek Freak.
Finishing with 32 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in just 27 minutes, it's the seventh time this season he has finished with 30-10 in fewer than 30 minutes - the rest of the league has 11 such games.
These types of nights from Antetokounmpo have become so normalised that you almost get the feeling they have somehow become underappreciated.
A special season continues.
DiVincenzo gets another start
With early season injuries sidelining both Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, second year guard Donte DiVincenzo quickly emerged as Mike Budenholzer's go to man to plug a hole in the Milwaukee starting lineup.
Middleton would miss this one with neck soreness, meaning the Villanova product would once again get the call.
Suiting up in just 27 games as a rookie due to a heel bursitis injury, DiVincenzo has quickly become a staple in the Bucks rotation with his defensive tenacity and ability to hit the glass as a guard proving invaluable.
Fast becoming a crowd favourite, perhaps no play sums up his impact on the game greater than a play with 9:30 left in the third quarter.
With the Bucks leading 72-49, Brook Lopez clanged a three off the rim with the rebound heading for the sideline. Hamidou Diallo half-heartedly pursued the ball assuming it would harmlessly trickle over the line before DiVincenzo hustled from a distance and eventually drew a foul on his Thunder opponent to give the Bucks another opportunity to score.
It was a minor play that few will remember in another blow out win for the Bucks, but those are the types of plays that are becoming a staple for DiVincenzo, and that's exactly why he has become some an integral part of the team with the league's best record.
DiVincezo ended the night playing 19 minutes, tallying seven points, six rebounds and three assists.
No Middleton, no worries
The Bucks depth is scary.
Oklahoma City were missing a starter and it showed, as they struggled to fill the gap in production lost by the veteran forward.
Milwaukee were absent an All-Star, and it mattered little, as Wesley Matthews (14 points), George Hill (14 points), Pat Connaughton (14 points) and Robin Lopez (12 points) picked up the slack.
From DEEP.#FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/nAtD4Sx59E- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 29, 2020
Middleton is on pace to become the fifth player in NBA history to record a 50-40-90 season while averaging at least 20 points per game, and yet, Milwaukee now improved to 8-0 without the smooth moving scorer.
The above mentioned players would all hold significantly greater roles on almost every roster around the association, and yet they each settle for a reduced role on a team on pace for 70 wins.
Winning often takes sacrifice in the NBA and to this point, Budenholzer's squad has it in spades.
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