Excitement was surrounding the city of Milwaukee, and entering the BMO Harris Bradley Center for the Milwaukee Bucks season opener on Wednesday night. It was Milwaukee’s first season opener at home since the 1984-85 season. The stage was set for the Bucks to back up the excitement in front of a sellout out crowd. However the New York Knicks had other plans.
The Knicks took control early and often with a 122-97 commanding win over the Bucks to spoil the home opener.
“We started off on the wrong foot. The first play of the game we gave up a lay-up. We have to give a better effort. Give the Knicks credit. They came out, they played hard. That second group they came out and played even harder, and that’s where the game turned,” said Bucks Head Coach Jason Kidd.
A big part of that second group for the Knicks was Derrick Williams. The Knicks were forced to call a timeout early after a dunk by Michael Carter-Williams that got the crowd going. Derrick Williams then came off the bench for the Knicks and scored 11 of his game-high 24 points giving the Knicks a spark.
“We knew it was their opening night and they were going to come out with a lot of energy. The crowd was hype, but as soon as that energy wears off it’s back to regular basketball. That’s what happened tonight,” said Williams.
Knicks All-Star guard Carmelo Anthony was held to only 11 points on 4 of 16 shooting. For Anthony is was more about the win saying, “It was a great road win. I thought we did a great job getting through the adrenaline rush early in the game with all the energy surrounding this game, with the fans and the city and just the team as a whole. They jumped out early but we calmed down and we took off from there.”
For the Bucks, there weren’t many bright spots. One bright spot however was newly acquired center Greg Monroe. Monroe finished with a team-high 22 points and 14 rebounds.
“I just tried to stay aggressive, and tried to pick my spots and take those shots. We were moving the ball pretty well. I was trying to find my spots so my teammates can get me a lot of decent looks,” said Monroe on finding his offensive rhythm.
Monroe found his rhythm, but that was about it for the Bucks.
“The one combination that worked tonight was Moose (Greg Monroe). He played well tonight. No one joined him, he was out there by himself. We gotta get people to join him,” said Kidd.
The Bucks were without a few key parts of their team tonight. Giannis Antetokounmpo was suspended for tonight’s game because of a flagrant foul on Mike Dunleavy in last year’s playoff series vs. the Bulls. O.J. Mayo was out with a hamstring injury. And Jabari Parker is still not back from a torn ACL he suffered last year.
Kidd is not using that as an excuse saying, “We can’t just say we lost because of Giannis and O.J., we felt that we had enough fire power and talent to win tonight, but we just came up short.”
The Bucks will get Antetokounmpo back from suspension next game, and perhaps he may be one of those “people” to help out Monroe. The Bucks face the Washington Wizards at home on Friday night.