Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks Beat Warriors After Stephen Curry Injury

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2018

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 8: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks the ball against the Golden State Warriors on November 8, 2018 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks snapped the Golden State Warriors' eight-game winning streak with a 134-111 blowout victory on Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was the star, as he put up 24 points and nine rebounds in just 26 minutes.

Klay Thompson led Golden State in scoring with 24 points, and Kevin Durant added 17 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Stephen Curry (10 points) left the game late in the third quarter because of a left adductor strain, while Draymond Green (toe) did not play.

             

Giannis Overtakes Curry on MVP Ladder with Signature Win

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 8:  Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors on November 8, 2018 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloa
Noah Graham/Getty Images

The showdown in the Bay featured two of the leading candidates for the 2018-19 MVP award: Antetokounmpo and Curry.

That race got a little more interesting Thursday night.

Antetokounmpo had been the driving force in Milwaukee's emergence, as he averaged 25.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.2 blocks during the first nine games. Through all of that, though, he needed a statement performance to get everyone's attention—and he did exactly that against Golden State.

On a night in which the Bucks' outside shots weren't falling (9-of-35 from three-point range), they still seized a comfortable early lead and never look back. That's because the Greek Freak was doing whatever he wanted in the paint against the Green-less Warriors.

Antetokounmpo proved dominant on both ends, as showcased by his ability to bully his way to a dunk and his swatting of a Durant drive.

Sure, the Warriors were missing two All-Star big men (Green and DeMarcus Cousins, who's still rehabbing his torn Achilles), but Antetokounmpo can't control who he goes up against. All he can do is make the most of the matchup presented to him, and that's exactly what he did against a team that has won three of the past four NBA titles.

Meanwhile, Curry—who entered the game averaging 31.3 points, 6.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds—wasn't quite himself. The two-time NBA MVP went just 5-of-14 from the field, including 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, while committing four fouls in 26 minutes. 

Curry has made it clear in the past that the only thing he cares about is championships, so adding a third MVP award may not be high on his priority list.

There's still a long way to go for the MVP race to be decided, but after Thursday night, it's hard to call anyone other than Antetokounmpo the front-runner.

Bucks Validating Hype as Finals Contenders

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 8: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks high-fives teammates during the game against the Golden State Warriors on November 8, 2018 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agr
Noah Graham/Getty Images

Milwaukee has been one of the league's best stories, but it was looking for a chance to grab the basketball world's attention with a statement win. 

Mission accomplished.

The Bucks didn't just beat the two-time defending champs. They demolished them in Oakland.

Milwaukee entered the night ranked first in three-pointers, second in scoring, first in rebounding and third in assists. Meanwhile, its defense ranked third in defensive rating, first in rebounds and first in opponent points in the paint. And the Bucks showed why Thursday.

Milwaukee held an impressive 84-34 edge on points in the paint, out-rebounded the Warriors by 13 and forced 18 turnovers. Not only that, but they also held Curry and Durant (who have a three MVP awards between them) to 37.9 percent percent shooting. All of that adds up to a statement victory.

In their 9-2 start, the Bucks have had a number of quality wins. They had already beaten the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors. However, all of those victories came at home. When they've faced tough competition on the road, they haven't had the same success, as they lost to both the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers away from Milwaukee.

This was just one game, but it proved they're for real.

That's not to say the Bucks are the favorites to win it all. Golden State wasn't at full strength, and even the best teams have off nights. Plus, an early-November contest is much different than a best-of-seven series in June.

Regardless, the Eastern Conference better be on high alert.

               

What's Next

Both squads will be back in action Saturday. The Warriors (10-2) will up a five-game homestand against the Brooklyn Nets, and the Bucks (9-2) will stay on the West Coast for a contest against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Related

    Hayward Willing to Take Bench Role Amid Struggles

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Hayward Willing to Take Bench Role Amid Struggles

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report

    T-Mac: Melo Should Just Retire

    NBA logo
    NBA

    T-Mac: Melo Should Just Retire

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report

    'Let's Face It: Spurs Screwed Up' with Kawhi

    NBA logo
    NBA

    'Let's Face It: Spurs Screwed Up' with Kawhi

    Ric Bucher
    via Bleacher Report

    Which Coaches Will Be Fired Next?

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Which Coaches Will Be Fired Next?

    Zach Buckley
    via Bleacher Report