Well, that was emphatic.
The Milwaukee Bucks tipped of their title defence in style, blowing out the Brooklyn Nets on a night of celebration in Milwaukee.
The Bucks led for the majority of the night in the 127-104 win, sending a reminder to the league that it won't simply be one-way traffic for the Nets in the Eastern Conference.
For Milwaukee, the night started with the ring and banner ceremony.
The long wait ends for Milwaukee
50 years is a long time.
Of course, we know the Bucks are champions, but there's is something final about seeing players and staff receive their championship rings.
Prior to tip, Milwaukee players and staff were presented with their championship rings. They look...expensive!!
2021 Championship Ring.- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 19, 2021
💍 @JewelersMutual pic.twitter.com/O30OcMaHXq
Smiles filled Fiserv Forum as the presentation celebrated the first championship for the franchise since 1971.
No rust for Giannis
Moving from the ring ceremony to game mode has caught some teams on the back foot in previous seasons, with Antetokounmpo admitting it was a challenge.
"It's kinda hard to like balance that. Go from that excitement, from that emotional state, to be able to get ready to play a game," Antetokounmpo said in a postgame interview.
If it was difficult, it was hard to tell, with Antetokounmpo stuffing the box score from the outset.
The Greek Freak picked up right where he left off.- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 20, 2021
32 PTS | 14 REB | 7 AST | 2 BLK | 1 STL pic.twitter.com/0xhTxmTN7E
The Finals MVP tallied 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in just 31 minutes. He knocked down a three and some mid-range jumpers, while also finishing 7-for-9 from the free-throw line with his new streamlined routine at the stripe.
The Nets went big with their starting lineup, inserting Nic Claxton and moving away from their tactic of starting Blake Griffin at center in the playoffs. Whoever they threw at Giannis in this one, it hardly mattered, with the 26-year-old looking sharper than ever in the opener.
Injuries piling up in Milwaukee
It wasn't a perfect night for Milwaukee, with an injury scare to star guard, Jrue Holiday.
Holiday appeared to come up sore on a drive to the basket in the second quarter. He would stay on the floor for a few possessions before checking out of the game for good prior to halftime.
The team announced the injury is a heel contusion, though head coach Mike Budenholzer confirmed scans had come back clean in his postgame media availability.
Holiday joined Bobby Portis (hamstring), Semi Ojeleye (calf), Rodney Hood (foot) and Donte DiVincenzo (ankle) on the sideline for the opener. The Bucks' depth was tested, with 2-way players, Sandro Mamukelashvili and Justin Robinson both seeing court time on opening night.
The Bucks will be hoping Holiday can make a speedy recovery as they hit the road for a meeting with Miami in two nights time.
Patty sizzles in Nets debut
The Nets may have gone down, but it was no fault of Patty Mills.
The Australian guard was seen as one of the prized recruits of the offseason, with the sharpshooting guard set to boost an already scare offence.
Mills continuously kept Brooklyn within striking distance, finishing with 21 points on an incredible 7-for-7 shooting from long range.
Aside from the hot shooting, Mills gave the Brooklyn offence a point of difference, with his ability to push the tempo and ask questions of the Milwaukee defence in transition a nice addition.
Patty has attempted 7 threes.- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 20, 2021
Patty has made 7 threes.
That's tied for the NBA record for most in a debut with a new team. pic.twitter.com/z3LjQm93EC
Nets lack help
The contributions of Mills were desperately needed in this one, with Kevin Durant and James Harden shouldering the scoring load otherwise.
Durant finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds, while Harden added 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
The trio contributed 73 of Brooklyn's 104 points. Outside of Mills, the Nets only managed four points off the bench.
The lack of help was compounded by the Bucks even contributions, with Pat Connaughton (20 points), Jordan Nwora (15) and Grayson Allen (12) adding to the performance of Antetokounmpo.
Despite their significant injury list, the Bucks looked like the deeper roster on this night.
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