It’s difficult to even break everything that happened after the first quarter of the Bucks 90-76 loss Tuesday night into words. Let’s just take a simple look at the numbers.
11-20: The respectable showing Milwaukee had from the field in the first quarter.
16-52: Milwaukee’s field goals made and attempted after the first quarter. Milwaukee went from shot 55% in the first quarter and just 31% the rest of the game.
2-14: John Salmons shooting line for the evening. Everyone knows by now that Salmons is working his way back into the lineup after a knee injury that shelved him for all of the pre-season, but injury or not, if he’s going to do this kind of damage to the Bucks chances to win a game, it’s worthwhile to question whether or not he should be active. Everything about Salmons seems off. When he catches for open shots in the corner, he drives hesitantly into the paint, not sure whether to shoot a fallaway jumper or attack with a move that won’t draw a foul thanks to his lack of explosiveness right now. It doesn’t look like Salmons trusts his long range shot, and it’s not tough to see why. After Tuesday’s 0-4 performance, Salmons is now shooting just 25% on 3-pointers this year, by far the worst he’s shot in his career. Salmons confidence in himself on the court is not evident and it’s showing in the results.
3-15: Milwaukee’s futile efforts at successfully shooting 3-point shots. There’s some upside here though: one player hit all three of their threes! Carlos Delfino finished the evening 3-5 from deep, continuing his phenomenal shooting performance this season. Unfortunately, Nicolas Batum got very serious after some first quarter lapses that saw Delfino finish with 11 points (4-5 FG 2-3 3FG). After the end of the first quarter, Delfino could hardly breathe without Batum finishing his breath, much less get an open look from deep. Batum played some of the most physical off ball defense I’ve seen in quite some time and played a big role in keeping the Bucks lone consistent 3-point threat this season from getting many touches. After the first quarter, Delfino went just 1-3 from the field with one made 3-pointer. Salmons and Brandon Jennings each missed all four of their attempts. So much for Jennings’ consistency.
16-17: Assists and turnovers for Milwaukee. Through four games, the Bucks now have 67 assists and 61 turnovers, good for a 1.1/1 assist to turnover ratio. Last season, Milwaukee had a 1.6/1 ratio. It’s safe to say at this point, Milwaukee hasn’t been sharing the ball with much success. Jennings does the heavy lifting when it comes to creating shots for the Bucks on most nights, but he had an unusually poor night taking care of the ball on Tuesday, turning it over six times. An unsettling sight for Milwaukee has to be everyone else’s commitment to moving the ball though. No player who has received significant playing time outside of Jennings (43.3 heading into Tuesday) and Salmons (12.5) has an assist rate better than 10%. Keyon Dooling has struggled mightily facilitating anything as the backup point guard and Delfino has gone from creator to shooter. Milwaukee needs someone else creating shots for teammates aside from Jennings.
97-86: Portland’s bench tallied 11 more minutes than Milwaukee’s but completely destroyed them in terms of production. Portland’s bench: 43 points, five 3-pointers, 15 rebounds,12 assists and four turnovers. Milwaukee’s bench: 31 points, 0 3-pointers, 12 rebounds, four assists and seven turnovers. Before the game Coach Scott Skiles said they certainly thought coming into the season that their bench would be a strength, but guys would need to play well when they were in the game. Very few players on Milwaukee’s bench did that Tuesday.
4-12: In the second quarter, Milwaukee was 4-12 inside the paint. 4-12 from INSIDE THE PAINT! Those aren’t bad shots! They are the ones teams want! Milwaukee just couldn’t figure out how to make them end up at the bottom of the net rather than in the hands of the Blazers. Portland had a hand in Milwaukee’s struggles, blocking four shots in the quarter, but Milwaukee did a heckuva job shooting themselves in the foot (as opposed to shooting the ball through the hoop) during the quarter. The Bucks were just 8-20 at the rim for the game as well. Corey Maggette struggled the most against a big Portland front line, going just 1-5 at the rim. Could Milwaukee’s smallish front courts be catching up to them very early this year?
None of the numbers were very kind to the Bucks Tuesday evening. And with a date in Boston looming tomorrow night, they are staring directly at yet another scary stat: a 1-4 record.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan of Bucksketball on Facebook (to the right).