WrestleMania 34 Preview

Get ready folks. WrestleMania 34 is shaping up to be yet another long extravaganza.

But there’s good reason to be very optimistic unlike the previous two years, and that is because of the amount of potential match of the year candidates on this year’s card and the amount of WrestleMania moments we’re all going to witness.

Believe it or not, this year’s card is even more stacked than last year’s (there are 14 matches currently compared to the 13 from WrestleMania 33). But there’s good reason to believe that this year’s Show of Shows will deliver one of the more memorable one’s in recent memory, perhaps even better than WrestleMania 31 (you know, the one that featured a classic ending with Seth Rollins cashing in his Money on the Bank contract).

So without further ado, here’s the list of all the matches currently on the card and my predictions (and this list is going to be long. No pun intended to Chris Jericho).

WWE Cruiserweight Title Match: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali

Just like last year, I expect the cruiserweight title to be on the pre-show. Don’t get me wrong, the cruiserweights can be crazy fun to watch. But most of the cruiserweights’ characters don’t connect with the fans well enough. Anyway, enough of the pickiness and on to the prediction.

Cedric Alexander has been vying for a title shot for a number of months now, going back to his feud with then champion Enzo Amore. Amore was suddenly released due to sexual assault allegations and Alexander never got his title shot. So then WWE started a cruiserweight title tournament and Alexander rightfully so has made it all the way to the finals to square off with Mustafa Ali.

Ali as well has been flirting with the title picture for a couple months so it makes sense these two get their chance to shine.

This match will probably be a good one to warm-up the crowd that will still be filing into the Superdome at the time, but it should be fun to watch nonetheless. That said, just because of how hard it’s been for Alexander to get a title run, I’ll give him the edge over Ali.


Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Yup. The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is returning yet again, and will probably be returning on the pre-show. Again.

This match is basically WWE’s way of ensuring all male superstars a spot on the card, which is a good tactic because I think we all know it’s virtually impossible to put every single superstar in singles matches. Otherwise the Superdome would instead be serving an All-American breakfast to the fans who have been watching 12 straight hours worth of wrestling!

It’s so hard to pick a winner, but I’ll go with a logical one since he really hasn’t had a WrestleMania moment yet: Dolph Ziggler. Yup, that’s right. The Showoff will finally get his moment because he claims he’s the best to shine on the big stage (although that hasn’t been true at times in his career).

But you know what? He’ll get it now because he, quite frankly, deserves a moment.


WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal

Another positive way to showcase the evolution of women’s wrestling. While there are a few superstars in this battle royal we’d rather see have a match (a.k.a. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley), WWE having all of its female superstars from Raw, SmackDown Live, and even some NXT superstars, perform on the grand stage at one time is a nice way to ensure they all have a moment. This match might also end up on the pre-show, which will rub some fans the wrong way. But, it might be a smart move rather than putting it on the main show in between championship matches for fans to hit the restroom.

The logical choice here is to pick a big name to win this thing, such as Banks, Bayley, or Becky Lynch. And it would make sense if one of those three triumphed because they helped pave the way for the Women’s Revolution a few years ago.

But these battle royals are also used for NXT call-ups, and I think WWE is going to go with a call-up on this one. And I think that call-up is going to be the current NXT women’s champion, Ember Moon.

Moon has held the title since November of last year and had a brief appearance in the women’s Royal Rumble match a couple months back. She has had a nice championship run and I think it’s clear WWE management is high on her. Therefore, they will give her some time in the very big WrestleMania spotlight and possibly call her up to the main roster full-time.


WWE United States Title Fatal-4-Way: Randy Orton (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev

I will sob if Jinder Mahal wins another title.

Okay, not really, but it would be a shame to most fans if Mahal comes out on top on WWE’s biggest show of the year. So I’m not going with the self-proclaimed Modern Day Maharaja.

This whole storyline really came in full circle when Randy Orton won his first ever U.S. title from Bobby Roode at Fastlane. Mahal then proceeded to defeat Roode and Orton (again) in two separate matches to earn his spot. One of Mahal’s managers, Sunil Singh, was “injured” by the hands of Orton and Roode so Mahal had to find a tag team partner to take on The Viper and The Glorious One in this past week’s SmackDown Live.

That tag team partner was Rusev, and Rusev ended up pinning the U.S. champion to earn himself a spot in the match.

So here we are, from a little to a lot in a matter of a couple weeks, and my prediction might be a little far fetched, but I’m going to say it anyway.

April 8, 2018 will be forever known as Rusev Day.

Happy Rusev Day!!! (Because every day after all is Rusev Day).


WWE Intercontinental Title Triple Threat: The Miz (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

I think this match is going to have a satisfying ending.

Not only has the build up to this match been somewhat fun. but this is the first of several matches to have serious show stealing potential.

Let’s just face it. All three of these guys needed a spot on the card because they’re arguably three of the biggest names in WWE today. And they have built up an interesting feud the past several weeks.

The Miz has continued to showcase his excellent mic skills, roasting Rollins, Balor, and the entire WWE Universe of how he is just these many “days away from becoming the greatest Intercontinental Champion in history.” Miz is an 8-time champion and has proven over the years to be one of the best upper mid-carders in WWE history. So it wouldn’t shock me if the Miztourage determined another match where The Miz prevails.

Rollins and Balor defeated Miz in two separate matches to get their shots, and don’t forget about the history between these two from SummerSlam a couple years back where Balor legitimately tore his labrum midway through the match.

All that said, Balor is the only one who hasn’t even seen the Grandest Stage of Them All yet, and he’s going to get it in a big way by winning his first-ever IC title.


WWE SmackDown Tag Team Title Triple Threat: The Usos (c) vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers

It appears The Usos are going to get their chance to showcase why they have arguably been the best tag team of our generation on the main show this time, going up against both The New Day and The Bludgeon Brothers.

If this match is on the main card, it will be the first time The Usos will be on it. Jimmy and Jey have been waiting far too long for this moment. They’ve been preserved on the pre-show the last three years because either of time constraints or the creative team didn’t have anything to do for them. So it’s quite refreshing to see them finally make it and hold the SmackDown tag titles, but I sadly don’t think they’re going to win this one.

The New Day has had great success since really coming into their own a few years ago, but they’ve also had their own fair share of WrestleMania moments. They took on the League of Nations [remember that stable?] two years ago and lost, but Xavier Woods got stunned by Stone Cold Steve Austin so that’s a win in itself. The trio also hosted last year’s Showcase of the Immortals and announced the return of the Hardy Boyz in one of the loudest reactions I’ve ever seen. While all of this is great, The New Day doesn’t really need another moment because even if they lose, they’re still way too popular to not really lose any momentum.

And that’s why I’m choosing the Bludgeon Brothers to win their first titles as a team. Harper and Rowan have been repackaged since last fall as these nearly unstoppable hunters with very large mallets they carry to the ring. Before this, they were stuck being in and out of The Wyatt Family for a number of years, and failed to get anything going during their time there. It would therefore be smart for WWE to have Harper and Rowan win their first titles for two reasons: to continue booking their dominance as still a fairly new stable and giving those two a WrestleMania moment of their own.


WWE Raw Tag Team Title Match: The Bar (c) vs. Braun Strowman and ???

Ever since Dean Ambrose went down to a torn triceps injury, the Raw tag team division has been pretty mediocre. I mean let’s just be honest. Sheamus and Cesaro, a.k.a. The Bar, have essentially saved the division from being a massive car wreck and have proven to be one of WWE’s more unlikely yet entertaining stables in a while. They are currently in their fourth title reign, and will look to continue that through WrestleMania 34 when they battle Braun Strowman and a mystery partner.

To remind you, Strowman is not technically in the tag team division. But he’s been given a shot because there is literally no other Raw team like The Bar’s caliber. And may I also be clear that Strowman earned this match for winning a tag team battle royal.

But how did he win it if he didn’t have a partner? Hmm, well, because Strowman is a nearly unstoppable force that has been so well booked for over a year.

So now the question is who Strowman will pick as his tag team partner. While that has yet to be officially revealed, reports suggest that his most recent adversary, Elias, might be his wing man if you will. If that is indeed the case, that would make the most sense because Elias has become one of WWE’s quickest rising stars in recent memory (WWE stood for Walk With Elias in that sentence by the way).

Time will tell who Strowman’s partner is, but I can almost guarantee that whoever Strowman picks will be the team that wins.


WWE Raw Women’s Title Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax

Alexa Bliss plays her character so well that she makes me want to hate her. That’s how good she is and has rightfully so become one of WWE’s most must-see female superstars in the last year or so.

Usually her tactics of turning on her “friends” have worked well for a while, except this time it came in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now Little Miss Bliss is forced to take on another former friend, but this one just so happens to be perhaps the largest WWE female performer ever in Nia Jax.

I’ve personally enjoyed how this storyline has unfolded. Bliss for the longest time was using Jax for her own advantages and Jax took the bait. It seemed everything was going well until the interview mics were left on backstage and Bliss revealed the truth of her intentions the whole time. And now, Bliss must deal with a 270 plus pound Irresistible Force hell bent on destroying her. Don’t you just love drama?

Nia Jax is not losing this match because it wouldn’t make sense for her to. It would actually be a shame if she did because this is the first time in her main roster career she has had such a huge moment like this. But I don’t think it’s going to happen and I’m confident the creative staff will pull through on this one.

This match might last five minutes too simply because of the storyline and size difference.


WWE SmackDown Women’s Title Match: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka

Another dream match with match of the year potential. It’s The Queen and her title taking on The Empress of Tomorrow and her two-and-a-half-year long undefeated streak.

This match is taking place for all the right reasons. Charlotte Flair has basically been the face of the women’s division for the past two years and has rapidly transcended as one of the greatest female superstars in WWE history. She’s a five-time women’s champion seeking to further cement her legacy by ending Asuka’s incredible winning streak on the Grandest Stage of Them All. Asuka meanwhile is looking to secure her first main roster title since being called up last fall, where she held the NXT women’s title for over 500 days before relinquishing it due to a broken collarbone.

The Empress of Tomorrow also won the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match so this match is basically a case of who is the best female superstar in WWE. There’s really nothing much else to say for this match because there’s enough hype.

Look for Asuka to extend her winning streak and have a very long championship reign. The only way I see Asuka losing her title is either because of another injury or a superstar bigger than Charlotte Flair cleanly defeating her. And I think we all know who that would be.

But this match might just steal the show, and I’m all in for it.


Tag Team Match: Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn


Daniel Bryan is now cleared to wrestle again for the first time since prematurely retiring from concussion issues two years ago.

I personally still can’t get a full grasp of Bryan’s return yet simply because I did not think this moment would ever happen again. I’m sure several others thought the same.

But now that it’s happening, this opportunity could not have come at a better time with WrestleMania right around the corner.

Shane McMahon has had beef with Kevin Owens since last September, where Owens laid out Vince McMahon and Shane has had a personal vendetta against him ever since.

The two culminated in a Hell in a Cell match in October, where it appeared Shane was ready to take down Owens for good by leaping off the top of the cell, but Owens’ best friend Sami Zayn pulled him out of harm’s way and Shane took everything.

Daniel Bryan, who is still the SmackDown General Manager, has been lighter on Owens and Zayn to the displeasure of Shane.

Shane a couple weeks ago then proceeded to take a leave of absence and give Owens and Zayn a singles match at WrestleMania, much to the disgust in those two which led to a merciless attack on their “boss.”

Bryan then responded the following week by “firing” both Owens and Zayn for their actions, which ultimately ended up in those two attacking Bryan.

The Yes Movement Leader the following week, with much determination, gave Owens and Zayn one more chance to keep their jobs if they defeat Bryan and Shane at WrestleMania. If Bryan and Shane lose, Owens and Zayn get reinstated.

It would logically make sense to pick Owens and Zayn here, but it’s Bryan’s first match in three years and I don’t think WWE after that long of absence would disappoint and having Bryan’s team lose. I’m also a huge Daniel Bryan fan and so I’m going to take the Commissioner and General Manager to win this match. If that happens, WWE will find a way to get Owens and Zayn their “jobs” back.

In WWE, anything can happen.


Mixed Tag Team Match: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon

Another WrestleMania moment in the works, this time featuring the in-ring debut of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.

The MMA turned professional wrestler debuted at the end of the Royal Rumble and immediately made an impact, entering the ring with Alexa Bliss, Charlotte Flair, and Asuka in the middle of it pointing to the WrestleMania sign.

She was nowhere to be seen until the Elimination Chamber, where she officially signed her WWE contract ensuring her a match at WrestleMania and really where the build up to the match took off. While signing her contract, Raw General Manager Kurt Angle mentioned that the reason Triple H and Stephanie McMahon brought her to WWE was to get redemption for what she physically did to the them in a classic WrestleMania 31 segment with The Rock. Rousey then proceeded to suplex Triple H through a table after The Game tried calming her down.

While The Rock is not able to compete because of movie obligations, having Angle available is the best next choice WWE had. WWE planted the seeds for this feud when Triple H pedigreed Angle at Survivor Series.

So now here we are with Rousey’s much anticipated in-ring debut. Rousey has looked solid training for her match and I believe she’ll be a fantastic performer. While she has some mic skills to improve on, Rousey is going to get most of the spotlight and what a better way to make a debut by taking out WWE’s two most hated people.

This match should be a fun one.


Singles match: John Cena vs. The Undertaker

A dream match for the ages featuring two of WWE’s greatest stars ever. And this match hasn’t even been officially confirmed yet but will take place anyway.

Now don’t get me wrong. This match would mean more if The Undertaker was still undefeated at WrestleMania and in his prime and John Cena was the full-time face of the company.

But better late than never, right?

WWE fans have been dying to see this match take place for a very long time and was actually supposed to happen last year before Vince McMahon decided to have Roman Reigns battle and dethrone The Phenom.

Many fans and media outlets speculated The Deadman was done for good following his second WrestleMania loss, putting his record at 23-2. And for right reason. The Undertaker has just turned 53 years old and hasn’t really had a great match since WrestleMania 29 when he took on CM Punk. The miles on his body has taken a toll on him and his match with Reigns last year didn’t deliver as many would have hoped. But neither The Undertaker nor WWE officially announced his retirement, although WWE teased it for many months.

So now here we are with a matter of days before WrestleMania and it appears The Phenom will give it another go. John Cena has been challenging The Undertaker to a match for a few weeks because in storyline, he doesn’t have a road to WrestleMania.

Cena failed to win the Royal Rumble match. Cena failed to win the Elimination Chamber match. Cena failed to capture the WWE title from AJ Styles at Fastlane. So in one last glimmer of hope, Cena desperately challenged The Deadman to one more match at WrestleMania to ensure he has a road to WrestleMania. While The Phenom hasn’t officially accepted his challenge, this match is guaranteed to happen. It’s just a matter of when it will be official (and it’s been driving Cena crazy).

Cena for a number of weeks has been so desperate for this match that he’s been imitating The Undertaker’s tactics and calling him out for his work out video on his wife’s Instagram account. 

The funny thing is that this match might not become official until WrestleMania. Now there’s still one week left to see if the Undertaker answers his challenge, which would make sense if he did, but I don’t expect to see him in person until WrestleMania itself.

The Undertaker seemingly retired his “Deadman” persona at last year’s big event, so it wouldn’t make much sense if The Deadman rises again in the same character. Instead, now is a good time to bring out his true self: an American Bada** sporting sunglasses and a bandanna riding a motorcycle seeking to give Cena a lesson in respect. Reports suggest this might just be happening, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Either way, despite me being a huge John Cena fan, it would be devastating if The Undertaker loses at WrestleMania two years in a row. I’m not so sure on how Undertaker will do, but Cena being his opponent should help this match live up to the hype because no matter the opponent, Cena makes anyone look good.

WWE should do the right thing and have The Phenom retire with a win over perhaps his biggest WrestleMania opponent ever. While Cena’s been in a slump, I’m sure he’ll find his way out of it and eventually win his 17th world title down the road. This match is more about Undertaker showing he still has it and showing Cena some respect, so he should get the spotlight for perhaps one more time.


WWE Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for this WrestleMania 31 rematch.

Lesnar and Reigns put on a match of the year candidate three years back before Rollins dramatically ended it, but these two have shown the capabilities to do the same at this year’s Show of Shows.

Lesnar has held the Universal Title for about a year and has been booked as nearly unstoppable in recent weeks, laying out Reigns in separate attacks.

But it’s not going to be enough, because I think we all know Reigns is going to be the one to finally topple The Beast and officially become the new face of WWE.

Some will like it and some will not like it. But WWE has been building Reigns for this moment for a year now and while I think he already is the face of the company, he’s going to get his grand coronation by getting his revenge on Lesnar from a few years back. Reigns will become a four-time world champion and I expect him to have a lengthy title run as well.

The entire goal of this match is to get Reigns cheered by fans and WWE has been doing their absolute best by having this storyline be like a shoot for as much as possible. I’m hoping it works because I think it’s been going well, but there’s always going to be jeers against Reigns and the reactions when he wins will probably not be what WWE wants.

This match might not last very long either because Lesnar’s matches are usually never that long, but this match should be exciting while it lasts.

Deal with it people. It’s only the beginning of the new Roman Empire.


WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

At long last, after over 4,000 words writing this, this is the final match on the card and one I believe should be the main event of the show.

First of all, this match is most promising to be the match of the year after these two put on an absolute thriller at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in New Japan Pro Wrestling a couple years back. Secondly, Shinsuke Nakamura won the men’s Royal Rumble match and almost instantly chose AJ Styles as his opponent. And finally, it will ensure fans go home happy.

I don’t think this match will go on last simply because of WWE’s continued focus on Reigns, but what’s wrong with wishful thinking? Fans love both Styles and Nakamura and they will both be cheered loudly in the Superdome.

That said, I also enjoy that this match has been built up as mostly drama-free because there’s really no need for it. WWE’s diehard fans already know this is going to be an incredible match and it’s for WWE’s most prestigious prize.

No matter the outcome, this bout will make the 70,000 plus fans who have paid thousands of dollars for tickets happy.

This match will be a show stealer. It will put an awe in the fans in New Orleans and at home. It will put the show on hold. It will tear the roof off the Superdome. It will make for a busy night on Bourbon Street.

And Nakamura’s theme will be engulfing the Superdome after he hits Styles with a “knee to face” and raises the WWE title for the first time in his illustrious career.


Bucks halt Spurs late-game push, creep closer to playoffs

I’m sitting at home over Spring Break, in a town with roughly 2,000 residents, closely observing the Bucks-Spurs late afternoon game on the TV screen in my family room.

The game I saw was close most of the way, but Milwaukee was able to stop San Antonio’s late comeback and pull away with a much needed 106-103 victory over a playoff team in the better Western Conference. The Bucks also swept the season series for the first time since the 2008-09 season. 

I then I thought to myself, You know what? It’s Sunday night and my family is watching an episode of “Chicago Fire,” so I might as well do something I enjoy and write a non-required blog post on my sports journalism blog.

So anyways, here’s how it all went down.

Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to the starting lineup after a brief one-game absence due to a high foot injury he suffered Mar. 21 against the LA Clippers. And man, Milwaukee needed him every step of the way.

The Bucks started the game out very strong, forcing stops and turnovers on the defense end and turning those into fast break points. May I remind you the Spurs have a pretty good defense.

Milwaukee ended the first quarter with a 27-15 and held the Spurs to just 29 percent shooting in the period.

But Gregg Popovich and co. ensured that lead wouldn’t last long, and it didn’t.

San Antonio chipped away in the second quarter eventually tying the game at 32, and actually took brief leads throughout the period thanks to their zone defense forcing Milwaukee to take contested jumpers.

The Bucks, however, responded well and made enough contested jump shots to eventually tie the game at 47 apiece heading into halftime. Antetokounmpo already had 17 points.

Perhaps the most emphatic statement Milwaukee made in the second frame was Spurs forward Rudy Gay’s badly missed and kind of laughable dunk attempt, which ended up with the Greek Freak showing him how it’s done on the other end thanks to an assist from point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Milwaukee extended its lead even more in the third quarter, scoring 41 points and had a comfortable 88-75 lead heading into the final period. Bledsoe and small forward Khris Middleton scored the first two 3-pointers en route to a quarter where the Bucks shot 4/6 from downtown. The frame ended with Bucks guard Brandon Jennings splashing a triple at the buzzer from the perimeter, and the BMO Harris Bradley Center was rockin’ [at least from my perspective on the couch].

Most of the fourth quarter featured Milwaukee steadily maintaining its lead and went up by as much as 12 with under four minutes to go in regulation, but the Spurs have been down late so many times during Coach Pop’s time and decided to make one more run for it.

It began with shooting guard Danny Green’s 3-pointer and then a layup from point guard Dejounte Murray to cut the lead to 104-97, and this was all done in the span of less than 30 seconds.

Bledsoe answered with a clutch midrange J [in the words of Gus Johnson] with 2:20 left to put his team back up nine, but then center LaMarcus Aldridge responded with two free throws.

The rest of the Spurs followed suit by stretching the run to seven unanswered and had a chance to send the game into overtime, but the long arms of Middleton were too much for Murray’s last second heave to handle.

Coach Pop was not happy.

And with that, Milwaukee’s record now jumps to 39-34 while San Antonio drops to 43-31 with less than 10 games to go for both teams.

I mentioned earlier that the Bucks needed the Greek Freak to win this game. If you keep reading, you’ll see why.

Antetokounmpo finished with 25 points on 9/16 shooting, including going 3/4 from downtown. That 3-point stat for Giannis is not something you see everyday, either.

Bledsoe and Middleton had 23 and 19 points each, respectively, giving the KEG a combined 67 points. If the Bucks are going to get a higher seed for the playoffs, those two are going to need to play consistent basketball like they did against San Antonio.

Aldridge did Aldridge things, putting up 34 points and only adding to his recent hot scoring stretch which included a career-high 45-point performance against the Utah Jazz Mar. 23.  

San Antonio drops to the sixth seed in the congested Western Conference thanks to a tie-breaker advantage the New Orleans Pelicans have on them. Just a four-game difference sets apart the third and eighth seeds. 

The Bucks are now back up the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference after Miami fell to Indiana, giving Milwaukee a half game advantage over the Heat and is just one game back of the Washington Wizards for the sixth spot. 

The Spurs are going to have to finish strong if they want to avoid a powerhouse Western Conference team, but the loss shows that the team is missing Kawhi Leonard. It’s very debatable the result could have flip flopped if Leonard was available, but he wasn’t and hasn’t been for most of the season.

Milwaukee meanwhile has a comfortable six-game gap between the ninth seed Detroit Pistons and are essentially a lock to make the playoffs if they win a few more games.

But it might be tough for the team in Cream City to win a few more games, as Milwaukee goes on a four-game road trip to the Wild West beginning with a rematch against the Clippers at the Staples Center Mar. 27.

The Bucks this season have struggled against good teams, and in the playoffs, only good teams punch their ticket. If anything, Milwaukee’s win over a solid Spurs squad might just be a starting point for a prolonged playoff push.

Orlando’s magical performance leads to win over lazy Bucks

Many Milwaukee Bucks and NBA fans alike were expecting Milwaukee to win over an Orlando Magic team that was on a 5-game losing streak coming into tonight’s game.

But they didn’t.

The Bucks instead put up an embarrassing performance against the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, losing to the Magic 126-117.

Orlando improves to 21-48 overall while Milwaukee drops to 36-32, and are now back in the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

The beginning of the contest looked fine for the Bucks, gaining a 13-9 lead after the first media timeout.

The Magic then decided to pull out all the stops, answering with 13 consecutive points and closing the first quarter on 27-7 run.

Magic point guard D.J. Augustin, who was averaging just about nine points per game this season, had already dropped 16 points after the first quarter.

That is not a misprint.

Milwaukee would get back in it to start the second quarter thanks to finally using some energy on defense, thus closing the gap to a 48-45 deficit with under four minutes left in the half.

And then Milwaukee squandered all of that hard work and suddenly went back down nine points at halftime.

The difference maker in the first half was the Magic’s ability to knock down 3-pointers like there was no tomorrow, shooting 10/19 while the Bucks shot a frustrating 3/11 on triples.

While watching the game, I told myself, It’s the Magic. The Bucks will get back in it and win.

I was wrong.

Milwaukee actually took the lead back, 80-77, with just under four minutes to play in the third after Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe feeded center John Henson in the post for a wide-open dunk.

But the Magic went bonkers yet again closing the quarter on a 14-0 run that was sparked by a lot of wide-open shots.

Milwaukee would close Orlando’s lead 95-90 with 8:49 to go but Orlando guard Shelvin Mack answered with a 3-pointer.

The Magic proceeded with a 9-0 run and go up 104-90 with just under seven minutes remaining, all but diminishing any hope for a Bucks comeback against a team they should have probably beat.

It seemed like almost every time the Bucks would get back in it or take the lead, the Magic would answer with a wide-open 3-pointer.

Milwaukee flat out just gave no energy defending the 3-point line.

Give the Magic credit, though. Some teams who get that many open looks miss a lot of the time, but not tonight at least.

Orlando shot 18/34 (52.9 percent) on triples, or maybe Milwaukee allowed Orlando to shoot that well on threes. Either way, that’s incredible.

Augustin and small forward Jonathan Simmons played great, scoring 32 and 35 points each, respectively.

Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo ended up playing 40 minutes and finished with 38 points and 10 rebounds against a statistically bad team.

In games like these, playoff-caliber teams should try their best to preserve their superstar’s energy for bigger games, but the Bucks apparently thought otherwise.

If you are a Bucks fan, I would be worried about a team that while it still has a good chance to make the playoffs, might not get very far yet again if they keep playing the way they have over the last few weeks.

The bottom line is that tonight’s game was a confidence-builder for the Magic and a concerning loss for the Bucks.

Milwaukee will next take on the Atlanta Hawks on St. Patrick’s Day at 5 p.m. in Milwaukee, while the Magic might as well celebrate their win with a trip to Walt Disney World.