Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On pace to win more than 70 games this season, the Milwaukee  Bucks hosted the Boston Celtics Thursday night. It’s one of the better  matchups on the Eastern Conference slate through the first half of the  season.

Though, that’s just on paper. As it has done all  season, Milwaukee ran roughshod through its opponent early before a  massive Celtics comeback in the fourth quarter drew this one close. 

In the end, the Bucks came out on top, 128-123, in a hotly contested affair.

Here are the biggest winners and losers from Milwaukee’s five-point victory over Boston Thursday night.

Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Are we at all surprised here? The Greek Freak is right up there with Luka Doncic and James Harden as the top NBA MVP candidates after earning that award last season. 

While Giannis did not have to go hero ball in this one, he was efficient on both ends of the court.

Antetokounmpo dropped 32 points on 11-of-22 shooting. He also grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out seven assists. Just another ho-hum performance from one of the greatest athletes in the world.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Jayson Tatum 

In the midst of another tremendous season, Tatum missed Jaylen Brown in this one. The two have been working wonders together, helping Boston avoid the need to move one player for a proven star.

Unfortunately, Brown’s absence with an injury impacted Tatum. The forward shot just 8-of-20 from the field and scored 17 points. The kid is simply going to have to show up to bigger games like this on a more consistent basis moving forward.

Winner: Kemba Walker 

Like he has done all season, Boston’s biggest summer addition came up huge when it counted. Sure, it did not help the Celtics come out on  top in Milwaukee, but Walker continues to prove his worth to the  franchise.

Walker scored a team-high 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting. He also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds. While it’s not great to see a point guard lead the team in rebounds, Walker’s  performance on Thursday paved the way for what was initially looking to be a nice comeback in the second half.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Eric Bledsoe 

There’s a reason why rumors suggest Milwaukee has to find an upgrade at point guard. Bledsoe has not performed up to the level of his contract, and could be a detriment to the team’s championship aspirations.

That came out in a big way going up against Walker. The veteran point guard scored just nine points on 2-of-9  shooting. In a game that saw other Bucks players step up, Bledsoe was lost.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Bucks bench 

We’ve focused on it a lot this season. Bucks general manager Jon Horst did a masterful job during the summer maintaining a deep bench. As has been the case all season, the bench came through against Boston.

George Hill, Donte DiVincenzo, Kyle Korver and Ersan İlyasova combined for 48 points. Milwaukee was also a combined plus-35 with those players on the court. That played a huge role when Boston attempted to mount a comeback against the Bucks reserves.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Gordon Hayward 

Yet another player Boston was hoping might step up with Brown out, this high-priced and injury-plagued forward came up small. Hayward connected on 1-of-10 shots from the  field, including 1-of-9 from distance. He struggled defensively when switched on to elite-level Bucks scorers, too.

It’s hard  to blame Hayward for the injuries in recent seasons, but at some point he needs to be seen as a bust. At the very least, the veteran is not coming anywhere near to living up to the four-year, $127.8 million deal he’s currently playing under. Thursday’s brutal performance was yet another example.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.


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Can you name every first round draft pick by the Milwaukee Bucks since 1979?
1979 - 5
Sidney Moncrief
1981 - 21
Alton Lister
1982 - 20
Paul Pressey
1983 - 18
Randy Breuer
1984 - 21
Kenny Fields
1985 - 22
Jerry Reynolds
1986 - 22
Scott Skiles
1988 - 13
Jeff Grayer
1990 - 16
Terry Mills
1991 - 18
Kevin Brooks
1992 - 8
Todd Day
1992 - 23
Lee Mayberry
1993 - 8
Vin Baker
1994 - 1
Glenn Robinson
1994 - 18
Eric Mobley
1995 - 11
Gary Trent
1996 - 4
Stephon Marbury
1998 - 9
Dirk Nowitzki
1998 - 19
Pat Garrity
2000 - 15
Jason Collier
2002 - 13
Marcus Haislip
2003 - 8
T.J. Ford
2005 - 1
Andrew Bogut
2007 - 6
Yi Jianlian
2008 - 8
Joe Alexander
2009 - 10
Brandon Jennings
2010 - 15
Larry Sanders
2011 - 10
Jimmer Fredette
2012 - 14
John Henson
2013 - 15
Giannis Antetokounmpo
2014 - 2
Jabari Parker
2015 - 17
Rashad Vaughn
2016 - 10
Thon Maker
2017 - 17
DJ Wilson
2018 - 17
Donte DiVincenzo
2019 - 30
Kevin Porter

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