After toppling NBA champs, Bucks visit Grizzlies

Following a rout of the defending champion Golden State Warriors, the Milwaukee Bucks will be riding a high when they pay a visit to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.

Milwaukee cruised to a 128-111 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday, getting 30 points, 12 rebounds and five assists from star Giannis Antetokounmpo in the process. Bobby Portis added 25 points and 11 rebounds off the bench to record his 16th double-double.

With his 30-minute performance, Antetokounmpo became the franchise leader in minutes played with 22,113. Currently in his 10th season with the Bucks, he passed Hall of Famer Bob Dandridge (22,094).

“Blessed to have this opportunity to be in this position,” Antetokounmpo said about breaking the record. “Playing the most minutes in a Bucks jersey ever, that’s huge. I feel like it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, you feel like you’ve contributed to a team.

“It’s a honor to have that accomplishment.”

On a night with so many positives, perhaps none were more encouraging than Khris Middleton’s 20-point performance. Middleton had missed the first 20 games of the season after getting wrist surgery in July and had gotten off to a bit of a rocky start.

But on Tuesday, he showed flashes that he could be returning to form.

Antetokounmpo will now look to continue stretching the record and Middleton will try to continue working toward his All-Star form against a Memphis team that has caught fire.

The Grizzlies have won six straight and eight of their last nine, and have done so thanks in large part to some surprising contributors, such as Tyus Jones.

In Memphis’ most recent meeting — a 128-103 drubbing of the Atlanta Hawks on Monday — it was Jones who led the way, scoring 22 points to pace seven scorers in double figures. He also added a season-high 11 assists in addition to nabbing three steals.

With Ja Morant (thigh) and Steven Adams (ankle) out, Jaren Jackson Jr. also stepped up, especially on the defensive end, as he tied a franchise record with eight blocks to go along with 15 points and seven boards.

“I think it’s his awareness first and foremost. I think his timing’s really improved,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said of Jackson. “He watched a lot of film, he took a lot of stock into what he accomplished last year and what he needed to work on last year going into the offseason.”

Jackson will be instrumental in Memphis’ effort to stop Antetokounmpo, as will Adams, who is expected to return Thursday. Morant will also likely be back in the lineup.

Although it’s a cross-conference matchup, the meeting with the Bucks will have a little extra meaning for Jenkins, who was an assistant under Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer during Budenholzer’s time with the Hawks.

After spending five years in Atlanta, Jenkins followed Budenholzer to Milwaukee, serving as an assistant for one season before taking over as head coach in Memphis.

Thursday marks the first meeting between the teams after they split a pair of games last season. Neither team has won back-to-back games in the all-time series since Milwaukee did so in 2019.

–Field Level Media