The Spurs played as close as possible to a perfect first half and followed it with a strong performance in the third quarter to secure a resounding 146-125 victory over the Bucks. San Antonio is only one victory or one defeat for the Pelicans away from securing a place in the play-in tournament.
The game started off like any other. The Spurs looked focused after a painful loss to the Trail Blazers and got some good production from Dejounte Murray on offense, but the Bucks hit a few three points to set the pace. There were encouraging signs that suggested San Antonio might do well early on, such as a sense of urgency to push the ball and early foul issues for Giannis Antetokounmpo, but nothing to suggest it was going to be a record-breaking night against an elite opponent. . Until the benches check in, it looked like another high scoring affair, the common type in the modern NBA. And then the dam started.
In the last three minutes of the first quarter, the Spurs had a 14-5 round largely thanks to the effort of the bench veterans. Rudy Gay and Patty Mills were on fire from the second they stepped into the game and their excellent play continued into the second quarter. It was ominous to imagine a rested Antetokounmpo taking on the often erratic San Antonio bench, but Silver and Black dominated those minutes. The Bucks were playing great but just couldn’t call as Mills and Gay picked up points. When DeMar DeRozan returned with five minutes left in the half, Spurs were up 23. They would enter the break after scoring 87 points, the most in the first period in franchise history.
Even a few days ago, most Spurs fans would have considered a 23 point halftime lead to be sure, but the Celtics’ return is too fresh on everyone’s mind to allow such arrogance. . It didn’t help that the Bucks looked ready at the start of the third quarter, even though the San Antonio starters, with the young guys in mind, kept them at bay. It seemed almost inevitable that at some point a race would turn a comfortable game into a close one. To Milwaukee’s credit, they did everything they could to make it happen, at one point reducing the deficit to 14 by the end of the period, but the bench again responded with a few Mills three-pointers for hold them back.
It was at the end of that third trimester that it became clear that this wasn’t going to be a collapse or even another nail rodent. San Antonio sailed to an easier win than anyone could have expected, leaving them one step away from winning a play-in appearance.
- The Bucks allow a ton of threes per design, especially from the wings and the top of the arc, so the Spurs are hitting a little harder than normal. But 12 first-half lines are just plain insane for San Antonio, regardless of the opponent. To give you an idea of how unlikely that was, Spurs had failed to hit double-digit marks beyond the arc in the previous four games. In the end, they finished with “only” 17 marks, which is their third highest score of the season.
- Patty Mills and Rudy Gay played a big role in spursing Spurs fire from the outside to secure that huge lead that would end up making the difference. Mills’ recent fight has been well documented and Gay has his detractors, but it was good to have a reminder that it was these guys plus Jakob Poeltl (more on him in a second) who were winning Spurs games early on. of the season. The team is much better when the bench veterans are playing well. Hopefully this game will not be an outlier, but a return to normal.
- Poelt almost got a triple double, which is insane. Jakob played a key role on both sides, challenging everything to do with defense and scouting, diving and holding the ball in attack. He also helped stop the Bucks’ comeback attempt. Pop sent him and Dejounte Murray out when Milwaukee cut the lead in the third and their presence stabilized defense while their pick and roll work provided some easy buckets. Fantastic game by Jak.
- Keldon Johnson, Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV combined for 60 points. It’s pretty impressive, but what should really encourage Spurs fans to think about the future is how fearless they looked. Johnson attacked Giannis like he was any other striker, Murray cooked Donte DiVincenzo and played great defense and Lonnie put in some big shots. Devin Vassell, for his part, didn’t hesitate to let him fly, hitting two or three. The young nucleus showed how good they can be.
- You know the whole team played well when DeRozan didn’t have to attack, which happened on Monday. Yes, he finished with 23 points, the team’s top, but also got just three assists for five turnovers. DeMar deserved a quiet offensive night (for his standards) in a win and his teammates made sure he got one.
- Bryn Forbes returned to San Antonio and finished the game with eight points and two assists. It’s a shame he was asked to do too much for Spurs which made him a target for fans looking for someone to blame for last season’s struggles. Hopefully he will have a long career as a bench shooter which he was always meant to be because he worked hard to get to where he is.
Next match: @Nets Wednesday
Spurs could clinch a berth in the play-in tournament with a win over the Nets. Brooklyn will be on a SEGABABA, so there should be a chance even with the disparity in star talent.