Attention to Tendencies: Bucks from deep against San Antonio

(Hi.  I’m breaking out a new idea of mine tonight.  Last week a friend of mine told me he’d love to check out the site more, but that I just write too damn many words.  I also recently had the opportunity to listen in with a real live journalist who spoke about the issue of brevity and the internet.  This is a possible solution, at least for me.

After games, I’ll put up an initial post focusing on something that’s been a problem or a positive as of late and how it manifested itself in the Bucks game that night.  I’m working with a title for these recurring posts, but for now I kind of like Attention to Tendencies.  I’ll still do my typical recaps, but those will come along later, either later in the night or early the next morning. – Jeremy)

Last season’s Milwaukee Bucks team often had a simple plan against teams it couldn’t match talent with: hit threes and hope the defense holds up.  Well, this season’s team often holds up the defensive end of the bargain, but the shooting, especially the 3-point shooting, has been absent.  It’s not simply that the Bucks aren’t making threes, they aren’t taking many of them either.  The Bucks rank in the bottom third of the league in both 3-point attempts and accuracy.  So it was fitting that the Bucks were able to stun the Dallas Mavericks and put a shock into the San Antonio Spurs in games they weren’t supposed to be competitive in with something neither team expected: 3-point shooting.  Milwaukee didn’t pull out the win against the Spurs, but their shooting prowess, specifically in the third quarter was encouraging.

Matching up with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker is a tough task, but it is even tougher for a team that won’t attempt threes.  That was the Bucks team that showed up in the first half.  Milwaukee managed just five 3-point attempts in the first half, connecting on two.  That kind of resistance to shooting from deep leaves a team predictable and operating against a defense that isn’t spread out.  But Milwaukee was a much more confident shooting team in the second half.  Getting contributions from a number of different players, the Bucks connected on four of five threes in the third quarter and saw the court open up for them to the point that they were able to get good looks inside often enough that they didn’t need the three in the fourth quarter (only one attempt).  It’s no coincidence that the Bucks shooting percentage soared from a miserable 35.7% in the first half to 54.1% in the second half.

Last season Milwaukee attempted 22.1 3-pointers per game and made 35.6% of them.  Coming into Wednesday’s game this year’s squad was attempting just 16.8 and hitting 33.2%.  Against other teams like the Mavericks and Spurs, Milwaukee needs to continue to flash back to last season as they did Monday and Wednesday and wield the three as a weapon. They just don’t have the offensive talent to live without making the long ball.  Some teams can do that, the Spurs being one, as they demonstrated Wednesday night in making just three of eight threes.  Milwaukee simply cannot.

Naturally, the problems with attempts and percentage are related.  If Milwaukee isn’t going to be able to shoot threes at a high percentage, it makes sense for them to keep the volume down.  Things should improve whenever Carlos Delfino returns to the lineup and as Chris Douglas-Roberts continues to get playing time, but they can’t stem the tide themselves.  Milwaukee needs Brandon Jennings shooting resurgence to continue (11 of 21 on 3FG over his past five games) and Ersan Ilyasova and Keyon Dooling to build on their recent successes.  If players are now playing to their talent levels, rather than significantly below as many suspected they were earlier this season, Milwaukee could finally have some sustained success shooting the three in the future.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog  Follow him on Twitter.  Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).

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