MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks staged another in a series of artful basketball exhibitions on Friday night at Fiserv Forum. Giannis Antetokounmpo padded his MVP résumé with skillful efficiency and gaudy athleticism (32 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists in 27 minutes, before taking yet another fourth quarter off in a blowout). Of those 32 points, 28 came in the half court, and his plus-44 was the best mark of his career. Nobody makes the game look more effortless right now.

The Bucks whipped the ball around the floor with precision — gorgeous interior passes in the half court, pinpoint pass-aheads on the break, weakside reversals to open shooters. They rebounded a mystifying 91.2% of rebounding opportunities on the defensive glass while also draining a season-high 21 3-pointers.

This is not far off the norm for Milwaukee in recent months. The Bucks scored 70 points before intermission on Friday night — an NBA-high 16th time this season they’ve crossed that threshold in a half. They led by 51 points early in the fourth quarter. When it was mercifully over, the Bucks — minus their second-most productive player, Khris Middleton — walloped the Oklahoma City Thunder 133-86.


Yet to those who handicap title prospects for the league’s top contender, none of this matters.

The Bucks are a regular-season tiger, say the skeptics.

This is a team whose success between October and April is the result of an air-tight system on both ends propelled by a dynamic superstar with an athleticism that can slice through less-motivated defenses during the dog days of winter.



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