The Milwaukee Bucks are moving on to the Eastern Conference semi-finals after a 4-1 first-round series victory over the Orlando Magic. Although the Magic made things interesting with their first game upset, the Bucks straightened out quickly and dominated the remainder of the series.
Recapping the Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando Magic Playoff Series
First Game Upset
The Magic winning the first game came as a surprise to many. The Bucks were picked by many to sweep the series. Orlando was short-handed with Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba, and Aaron Gordon out for the series.
Nikola Vucevic stepped up big time in the first game. His 34 points and 14 rebounds came on 15-24 shooting from the field and 5-8 shooting from three. Beyond that, he finished with a plus/minus of plus-14, showing how massive of an impact he had.
Although Evan Fournier, the second option on offense, struggled, Markelle Fultz and Gary Clark combined for 30 points. Terrence Ross scored 18 off the bench, while DJ Augustin had 11 assists in just 23 minutes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo still had a great game in the loss. His 31 point, 17 rebounds, and 7 assists night were as good as one could’ve asked for. He couldn’t do it all on his own, however, as the Bucks lost due in large part to Khris Middleton‘s poor shooting night.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ Takeover
The Bucks went on to dominate the rest of the series, winning the next four games by a combined 58 points, or by an average of 14.5 points.
Milwaukee held Orlando to under 100 points in game two. After that, Orlando’s highest-scoring game saw them score 107 points in game three. With that being the case, it became clear that Orlando’s upset in game one was more of a poor performance on Milwaukee’s part rather than the Magic posing a true threat.
Vucevic and Augustin continued to perform well for Orlando. Fultz and Clark, however, had their best output in game one. Milwaukee also managed to make Fournier a non-factor for every game besides game five.
While Antetokounmpo continued to shine, Milwaukee’s play picked up as Middleton found his shooting stroke again. Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe were reliable but never had to go above and beyond as Milwaukee took full control of games by the end of the first half.
Top Performers for the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic
The MVP of the series is Antetokounmpo without a doubt. He was a man on a mission, averaging 31 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 assists per game on 59 percent shooting. There was no stopping him. Perhaps a healthy Gordon could’ve played a factor defensively due to his elite athleticism, but players like Clark and James Ennis did not stand a chance.
Middleton’s output in the first four games of the series was subpar. His averages of 13.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists are solid by all means, but still below his standard. He swept off all dust in game five, however, putting up 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. Middleton struggling would’ve been a cause for concern down the road in the playoffs, but he silenced any criticism with his latest performance.
Vucevic’s gargantuan efforts simply weren’t enough for the Magic. After missing out on an All-Star berth this season, however, he proved that he’s still amongst the best of the East’s big men. He averaged 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists per game in the series. He was a major offensive factor and thrived versus a strong defensive big man in Lopez. The Magic’s downfall was no fault of his own, as his teammate’s shortcomings proved to be the biggest issue.
Up Next for the Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee faced the eighth seed that was in the midst of an injury bug in the first round. Their second-round opponent in the Miami Heat will be a completely different story.
Miami is fresh off a series sweep versus a feisty Indiana Pacers side. Jimmy Butler is the leader of an extremely deep squad with a strong mix of veterans and youth. Bam Adebayo is already an All-Star and becoming one of the most versatile centers in the game. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro are incredible shooters who can get non-stop buckets in quick bursts. Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala bring veteran savvy, toughness, and strong perimeter defense. Lastly, the Heat’s point guard rotation features the skilled Goran Dragic and a Rookie of the Year finalist in Kendrick Nunn.
Beating the Heat will be no easy task. Miami is one of just three teams (the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks) that bested Milwaukee in their regular-season series. Expect both an entertaining and hard-fought series.
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