The Milwaukee Bucks continue their impressive run in the second half of the season, cruising to their sixth-straight win with a 120-113 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Bucks have now won 11 of their past 12 games, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the charge, tonight scoring 26 points and eight rebounds, tying his career-high with 15 assists.
Milwaukee is now 16-5 at Fiserv Forum, holding the second-best home record in the NBA behind the Philadelphia 76ers.
Lonnie Walker IV led the Spurs with 31 points, while DeMar DeRozan added 22 points and 13 assists as their three-game win streak came to an end.
Here are the key takeaways from tonight's win:
Giannis turns playmaker
For the second time in his career, Giannis Antetokounmpo dished out 15 assists as seven Bucks players scored in double figures in the win.
With the game in the balance in the fourth quarter, Antetokounmpo took over, scoring 11 of his 26 points in the final frame and accounted for all six of the Bucks' assists in the period.
That included a pivotal run in the middle of the fourth with the Bucks in front 98-94, where Khris Middleton splashed three 3-pointers and Antetokounmpo dished out three assists to stretch their advantage to 115-104 - capping the run with this one-handed hammer.
24 PTS, 15 AST.. and this spinning SLAM for Giannis! 💥 pic.twitter.com/otA0fPvBra- NBA (@NBA) March 21, 2021
"I think Giannis is playing with the pass at a high level, really creating great shots for his teammates," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said post-game.
"We talk about having a roster that's got a lot of shooting, so I think it's a lot of little things, it's not one thing that leads to that, but we certainly want to keep working on it and emphasizing it."
Giannis 👌, Thanasis approves. pic.twitter.com/wyj4MQa95Y- NBA (@NBA) March 21, 2021
Giannis' MVP case?
The reigning two-time Most Valuable Player looked out of the running in the first half of the season, with Joel Embiid entering the All-Star break as the frontrunner, alongside LeBron James.
Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard have more than made their case this season, but with Embiid and James sidelined with injury, has that opened the door for Antetokounmpo to make a run at his third-straight MVP?
Only three players in NBA history - Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird - have won three MVPs in a row, but with the Bucks making a strong second-half surge, sitting third in the Eastern Conference, just 1.5 games back of the Philadelphia 76ers, Antetokounmpo could crash the party with a monster second half of the season.
Here's a look at the updated odds for MVP, per FanDuel Sportsbook
PJ Tucker's debut
Recently-acquired veteran P.J. Tucker made his Bucks debut tonight after having not played since March 3 as he waited on the Rockets to find a trade partner.
The 35-year-old entered the game with 4:32 remaining in the first quarter and logged 13 minutes, recording three rebounds and one block, going scoreless as he attempted just one shot.
Tucker was brought in for his experience, leadership and defensive presence, which he displayed in his short cameo, switching out onto the perimeter to contest shots, cutting off driving lanes and using his physicality.
P.J. Tucker defensive impact in his @Bucks debut! 🔒 pic.twitter.com/hhvs61NP8p- NBA (@NBA) March 21, 2021
With Tucker in the lineup, the Bucks now boast a strong defensive core of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Jrue Holiday and have 31 games remaining in the regular season to integrate the veterean into the rotation.
After completing their five-game road trip in San Antonio, the Bucks will return home to take on the Indiana Pacers at Fiserv Forum on Monday (E.T.).
Meanwhile, the Spurs, whose three-game win streak came to an end, will host LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets on Monday (E.T.).
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