For the first time since I started making these lists back in 2012, they now come in two installments: most memorable regular season games and most memorable playoff games. That owes to a long enough playoff run to justify it, albeit a playoff run that in the end felt not quite long enough. Here’s to more than 60 regular season wins next season, and more importantly, more than 10 playoff wins next season.
Memorable games archive:
And my 10 most memorable regular season games from 2018–19:
10. Bucks 105 Raptors 92 — January 31, 2019 — Scotiabank Arena | Watch: Game Highlights
- The Bucks entered the night up by a game on the Raptors for first in the East and home court advantage in the playoffs.
- It is frustrating to think about now given the context of the playoff matchup, but at the time it was pretty fantastic that the entire starting lineup of the Bucks thoroughly outplayed the starters of the Raptors, including an inefficient Kawhi (7–20 from the field).
- D.J. Wilson had himself one of the finest games of his career, with 16 points including 3–6 threes along with two steals and a block.
9. Bucks 144 Hawks 112 — January 4, 2019 — Fiserv Forum | Watch: Game Highlights
- The Bucks beat plenty of teams that were better than the Hawks. But this served as a representative case study of their season-long dominance.
- For one thing, the game was over almost immediately. They won the first quarter 43–14, but it was well out of reach just midway through the first quarter at 24–9.
- That resulted in things like Giannis playing 19 minutes, ninth most on the team. Jason Smith hit 2–3 threes. Khris Middleton shot 7–8 from the field and 4–4 on threes. It was light, breezy, fun times, like so much of the regular season.
8. Bucks 144 Kings 108 — November 4, 2018 — Fiserv Forum | Watch: Game Highlights
- Coming into the game, these were two of the most pleasant early surprises in the league. The Bucks looked like they were making a leap at 7–1 while the Kings looked like playoff contenders (and a fun watch on top of that) at 6–2.
- Then the Bucks blew them away for four straight quarters (scoring 39–33–36–36).
- This was not the first game the Bucks went three-point crazy. They had in the first weeks of the season already established a new let it fly philosophy, including when they hit 19 from deep in a win against the Raptors a few days earlier. But this 22–56 performance from deep was the most extreme case of the season in terms of makes and attempts, as 11 players hit at least one three and all 13 guys who got minutes attempted at least one.
7. Bucks 121 Nuggets 114 — November 11, 2018 — Pepsi Center | Watch: Game Highlights
- The end of an up-and-down trip out West ended here. It started with a loss in Portland, then a win in Oakland, then a loss in Los Angeles (to the Clippers).
- On a back-to-back after that tough two-point loss to the Clippers, the Bucks went into Denver and rode strong games from all five starters from the core starting five of Bledsoe/Brogdon/Middleton/Giannis/Lopez to a win in what turned out to be the toughest place to play in the NBA during the regular season, as the Nuggets finished with a league-best 34–7 home record.
- Lopez went 8–13 from long range, and that helped.
6. Bucks 134 Warriors 111 — November 8, 2018 — Oracle Arena | Watch: Game Highlights
- For years, the Warriors have been coming out of halftime and, whether up or down at the half, kicking teams off the planet in the third quarter. (See: Blazers series) So the 13-point halftime Bucks lead did not feel safe.
- But then the Bucks came out of the locker room and stomped on Durant, Curry, and Klay (Draymond was the only key guy out) in a 41–28 third quarter that rendered the fourth quarter mop-up time. It was still really early in the year, but the Bucks were 9–2, and for perhaps the first time, had established themselves as a co-favorite in the East.
- Bledsoe was magnificent, including 10–12 from the field.
5. Bucks 116 Rockets 109 — January 9, 2019 — Toyota Center | Watch: Game Highlights
- In the first of two matchups (and two wins) against the other MVP favorite, Giannis and the Bucks went into Houston and beat the hottest team in the league. The Rockets had not lost a home game in over a month.
- Harden went for 42/11/6 (also nine turnovers), but Giannis (21/21/5) at least drew even with him, continuing a trend of Giannis stepping up in games against fellow MVP contenders.
- It was a showdown of not only the two foremost MVP contenders but also the two highest-volume three-point shooting teams. The Bucks only hit on 8–27 (.296) from range, and that made the win even more impressive.
4. Bucks 104 Raptors 99 — December 9, 2018 — Scotiabank Arena | Watch: Game Highlights
- Coming up on two months into the season, these two teams had the look of being the class of the East (of course, they ultimately were). The Bucks had already beaten the Raptors once (back in October), but that was without Kawhi.
- Both superstars played like superstars, with Giannis going for 19/19/6 and Kawhi going for 20/8/4, and both players playing better than those numbers showed.
- Giannis had all five Raptors collapsing on him, and he was kicking out for open threes for teammates, a theme that would continue throughout the rest of the year, and which helped transform the Bucks into being one of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in history.
3. Bucks 143 Blazers 100 — November 21, 2018 — Fiserv Forum | Watch: Game Highlights
- The Bucks won by 43 against a team that went on to go to the Western Conference Finals, and this version of the Blazers actually still had its third-best player (Nurkic). It was an eye-opening performance at the time, standing out even among other eye-opening performances, and it still stands out to me.
- Keep in mind the Bucks were avenging a loss in Portland from a couple weeks prior.
- One of my favorite offensive sequences of the game, week, and year was one of the few that did not result in a basket on this night. With the Bucks up 56–39, Middleton missed a shot at the hoop, Connaughton got the offensive board, and within two seconds of shot clock, the Bucks managed to whip two passes and find Middleton for a three. He missed, but it was the Bucks in peak stay-active, pour-it-on, near-Warriors mode.
2. Bucks 123 Sixers 108 — October 24, 2018 — Fiserv Forum | Watch: Game Highlights
- After the Bucks opened the season 3–0, Embiid and the Sixers jumped to a 14-point first quarter lead in Milwaukee. But like so much of the rest of the season, the Bucks had little trouble overcoming a double-digit deficit.
- A 49-point second quarter (against a Finals hopeful)foreshadowed, for the first time, an emerging juggernaut.
- Brook Lopez (5–11 on threes) made an early Splash Mountain appearance, Giannis (32/18/10) was on his way to an MVP, and the three leading minutes guys off the bench were DiVincenzo, Snell, and Henson? The Bucks moved pieces around throughout the 60-win season, but rarely did combinations not work, which is how they got to those 60 wins.
1. Bucks 128 Sixers 122 — April 4, 2019 — Wells Fargo Center | Watch: Game Highlights
- We narrowly missed what surely would have been an entertaining (and maybe better-ending) Eastern Conference Finals matchup between these teams, and this game was a delightful preview. Next year?
- Bledsoe got ejected about two minutes in after tossing the ball back at Embiid. Good chippy fun.
- Giannis/Embiid was some serious heavyweight showdown stuff, with Giannis (45/13/6 along with five blocks) delivering arguably the greatest individual performance of his career (so far), highlighted by massive blocks of Embiid.