Please select your default edition
Your default site has been set for 7 days

Giannis Antetokounmpo dominates as Milwaukee Bucks cruise past Brooklyn Nets on opening night

The Brooklyn Nets had no answer for the Finals MVP as Giannis Antetokounmpo took control on both ends to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a comfortable 127-104 victory on the opening night of the 75th NBA season

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights of the Brooklyn Nets against the Milwaukee Bucks in Week 1 of the NBA

On the night he collected his 2021 Championship ring, Giannis Antetokounmpo reminded the Brooklyn Nets just what they will have to deal with again this season if they have any hope of realising their own title ambitions.

Although he looked rusty at first, missing easy shots around the basket in the first quarter before battling for the offensive rebounds and putting them back at the second or third attempt, Giannis grew into the game and dominated proceedings without ever really needing to move up a gear.

There were highlight plays because of course there were, this is the Greek Freak after all, but most of Antetokounmpo's 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists came easily. A slow, methodical kind of destruction of a Nets team that had no answer for the Bucks' reigning Finals MVP.

Milwaukee Bucks

Points Rebounds Assists
Khris Middleton 20 9 3
Giannis Antetokounmpo 32 14 7
Brook Lopez 8 5 0
Grayson Allen 10 4 6
Jrue Holiday 12 1 1

The final score, 127-104, was maybe a touch flattering after the Nets went in at half-time behind by only seven points. After the break, however, they simply failed to match the intensity of a Bucks team that had contributions from all comers, including an outstanding game from Jordan Nwora (15 points, 6 rebounds and one huge block on Kevin Durant) who was a G-League player last season.

In contrast, Brooklyn were oddly subdued, with only the red-hot shooting of new signing Patty Mills (21 points, 7-7 from deep) a positive from a contest in which they were outplayed from start to finish. Without Kyrie Irving, Mills will have to maintain this kind of FIBA form as the first man off the bench for Brooklyn.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Take a look at Patty Mills' 3-pointers for the Brooklyn Nets against the Milwaukee Bucks

Durant put up Durant numbers (32 points, 11 rebounds, four assists) but never really took over the game in the same manner as Antetokounmpo, who dominated the glass without breaking a sweat and terrified Brooklyn's frontcourt pairing of Nic Claxton and Blake Griffin at both baskets.

There was one world-ending block on Claxton early in the first quarter which seemed to shake the 22-year-old center for the rest of the game, causing him to finish Harden's frequent (and gorgeously weighted) lob passes with slightly more tentativeness than The Beard would have liked for the remainder of the game.

Also See:

Even so, it was the stuttering, wrong-foot Euro step and lefty finger-roll layup that was the highlight of the night, showcasing all of Giannis' sublime dexterity in between these giant, half-court strides to the bucket.

For all his raw, broad-shouldered power he remains an underrated technician with the ball in hand. There are few players who can put the two together quite like him.

The difference for the Bucks, other than boasting the number one player in the league, was their superior shot quantity and selection. They took 105 field goals to Brooklyn's 84, a result of the Nets' 12 turnovers and Milwaukee's sterner defense, with almost all of them coming from the three-point line or near the basket.

Only Khris Middleton (20 points, nine rebounds, three assists), a stone-cold killer from the mid-range, seemed to have the green light to fire from there as the Bucks hunted efficient shots wherever they could find them.

Due to a heel injury sustained by starting point guard Jrue Holiday, sixth man Pat Connaughton was thrust into 30 minutes of action and duly delivered, pouring in 20 points and flying around the court with trademark vigour.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, was quieter in the box score but played with more ferocity in his 12 minutes of court time than all of the Nets players combined.

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo show off their championship rings before an NBA basketball game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Image: Donte DiVincenzo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Jordan Nwora show off their championship rings alongside the Larry O'Brien trophy before the game

Durant and James Harden looked lethargic despite having their requisite individual moments of brilliance and that lack of energy seemed to trickle down through the rest of the team. Whether this is due to the ongoing Irving situation taking the wind out of their sails on opening night is unclear, but it would be difficult to believe it hasn't affected the team's preparations in some way.

LaMarcus Aldridge looked leaden-footed on his return to the NBA and struggled with the switch-everything scheme of head coach Steve Nash, whose decision not to play the position-less dynamo Bruce Brown until late in the fourth quarter made little sense, particularly as Jevon Carter, an undersized guard, was -29 in his 19 minutes on the court.

Brooklyn Nets

Points Rebounds Assists
Kevin Durant 32 11 4
Blake Griffin 6 5 0
Nic Claxton 12 7 0
Joe Harris 9 2 2
James Harden 20 8 8

Still, this is only one game of 82. Nash, Durant and Harden have plenty of time to figure things out over the course of the season.

For the Milwaukee Bucks, this was a performance fitting of the jubilant pre-game ceremonies and worthy of their status as defending champions.

The culmination of last season was all about Giannis Antetokounmpo. It appears he isn't giving up the spotlight anytime soon, whichever superteam rolls into town.

Around Sky