If the playoffs started today Milwaukee would fear no one -- because they've beaten everyone.
Toronto. Philadelphia. Indiana. Boston became the latest Eastern Conference contender to fall to the Bucks, 120-107.
The formula remains the same for the modern-day deer from Wisconsin: a whole lot of Giannis (30 points on 13 field goal attempts), and a gaggle of marksmen surrounding him. Eight different Bucks hit at least one 3-pointer en route to a 16-for-40 performance (40 percent) from beyond the arc.
Milwaukee's second-ranked defense remained just as impressive, holding Boston (albeit without Al Horford, Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris) to 38.5 percent shooting and 29.4 percent from deep.
The Bucks (22-9) are the hottest team in the East, having won four in a row and creeped within 1.5 games of league-leading Toronto (25-9). And yeah, Antetokounmpo is surfing his team's wave of new-found confidence big-time.
Giannis says the Bucks are a better team than the Celtics now: “Talent-wise we are better and this year, our offense is different.”— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) December 22, 2018
Fear the deer, because they're not afraid of anyone else.
The Bucks' latest victim didn't feel the usual post-loss routine was enough. Indeed, the Celtics have now lost three straight and slipped to fifth in the East. This follows an impressive eight-game win streak that seemed to have righted the ship, only to see them struggle once more.
Boston players met after the game to discuss what ails them. It's worth asking for a team that lacked neither confidence nor production throughout its injury-riddled run to the Eastern Conference finals a year ago.
The finer points of that discussion -- and the results thereof -- remain a mystery for now.
Jaylen Brown won’t reveal many details, but said the Celtics met as a team after the loss to try to get on the same page.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 22, 2018
Kyrie Irving on the meeting: “That’s none of your business.”— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 22, 2018
Jayson Tatum on whatever happened on the locker room: “It’s just something we need to keep in the locker room.”— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 22, 2018
Whatever sickness that rampaged through the Lakers locker room -- and nearly kept three players out of action against New Orleans -- didn't seem to affect LeBron too badly. That's despite the fact that James skipped shootaround and was a game-time decision.
Instead, No. 23 suited up anyway and wound up with a triple-double (22 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists) well before the final buzzer of L.A.'s 112-104 win over the Pelicans.
I mean, if this is what he looks like on a sick day...
There was a lot of anonymous discontent after James publicly stated earlier this week that he would like to play with Anthony Davis, who is one-and-a-half seasons away from free agency and shares the same agent as James himself.
When asked about the reaction to his comments, James dryly requested that the reporter ask if he would like to play with [insert All-Star name here]. At the end of making his point, James ended with this assertive conclusion.
"They wish that they can control what you say," James declared. "They can't control me -- at all."
That wasn't the Kyle Korver we know. Or at least, not the one we see very often.
See, the Korver that played in Utah's 120-90 demolishing of Portland hit seven shots -- and four of them were 2-pointers. That's just the 10th time since Jan. 1, 2014, that Korver has hit seven shots and the majority weren't from beyond the arc.
Even Damian Lillard is subject to Shaqtin' sequences...
After missing the dunk, Lillard winds up with an offensive rebound, drives baseline and whips the ball to... his teammate on the bench.
The Brooklyn Nets, who saw their longest winning streak since mid-January of 2013 snapped by the Pacers. Their starting lineup back then: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Keith Bogans and Reggie Evans.
Nope, not Brook. Robin Lopez hit his third 3-pointer of the season and is now a room-temperature 30 percent (3 for 10) through 26 games.
The Bulls big man hit just four 3s all of last season, so the odds are good he'll set a new career-high before the end of 2018-19.