There was a point, about 75 seconds in, when Milwaukee was up something like 8-0 and the thought that “this is the best team in the NBA” bounced around inside lots of heads, and what’s more, they’d won six in a row coming in. Then the shots began to fall for the Thunder. By the end of the first quarter, OKC was up 31-25; they held the Bucks to 17 points in the second. Milwaukee, of course, fought back; down as many as 19, they closed to within six in the third quarter, though the Thunder were back up ten before the final frame. The Deer weren’t through, though: at the one-minute mark they were down only three. A Paul George triple put OKC up six with :47 left. Jerami Grant stole the ball from the Bucks, tossed it to Russell Westbrook, who was promptly fouled; Westbrook swished one of two foul shots, and Giannis Antetokounmpo responded with a dunk. PG-13 sank two freebies; Brook Lopez pushed up a trey, and Grant delivered two more free throws to finish off Milwaukee, 118-112.
All five starting Bucks made it into double figures, led by Antetokounmpo with a solid 27 and 18 rebounds to boot; however, the bench managed only fifteen in aggregate, or one more than Dennis Schröder. Malcolm Brogdon, who never misses a free throw, somehow missed a free throw. Meanwhile George had a fearsome double-double, 36 points and 13 boards, including a nasty dunk over Giannis late in the fourth; Westbrook racked up yet another triple-double, 13-13-11, and Grant, who drew the stop-the-Greek assignment, picked up 16 points and delivered five blocks. That may explain the final as well as anything. (Well, there’s this: OKC put up 32 treys, made 16.)
Nothing quite as refreshing as winning three straight at home. But the road calls, as it will, and the Thunder will set up shop in Orlando Tuesday evening, in Miami on Friday, and then a Sunday afternoon in Boston. So far, OKC has done well against the East, but the operative phrase, of course, is “so far.”