If Christmas Day is when the NBA season really starts, or at least when casual fans start tuning in, then the Milwaukee Bucks made an emphatic opening statement.
Milwaukee hadnt played on Christmas since 1977, but you can pretty much pencil it in for next season – and probably the year after that, too.
Against this same Knicks team in October, the Bucks went 1-for-13 from deep in the third quarter and caught fire in the fourth, winding up with a 124-113 win.
We realized that we cant be a team or we dont have to be a team that is just pounding the ball in one spot, thing to take tough shots, isolation and whatnot, Middleton said then.
It entered MSG first in net rating, second in offensive rating and, crucially, fourth in defensive rating.
This is the statistical profile of a championship team, and, aside from the Bucks poor 3-point shooting, all the hallmarks of their 23-10 start were on display on Christmas: They protect the rim, they defend without fouling and they create high-value shots.