The NBA preseason isn’t the time for fans to push the panic button by any means. It’s a time however, where strengths and weakness begin to show for every team. That being said, a couple of familiar concerns popped up in the Milwaukee Bucks’ 104-95 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Tonight was not good. Each half began well and ended poorly. The Bucks began each half with steals, fast break points and solid defense. However, as soon as that bench hit the floor in each half, it got real … ugly.
This game brought on an array of frustrating sequences on Raptors’ possessions. Toronto attacked the rim. The presence of Samuel Dalembert showed when he was playing. The problem was when he was taken out. The Raptors exposed his absence with relentless attacking of the rim. When they attacked, they found their fortune by drawing the Milwaukee defense in and kicking it out to the open man. Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson were just some of the beneficiaries of this attack, finishing with 17 and 10 respectively.
While the Raps attacked, the Bucks elected to shoot from the perimeter. Believe it or not, that didn’t work out quite so well. The Bucks shooting just over 40 percent, making 37-92 from the field. Sad to say, those shooting numbers may have been a bit inflated as result of a hot start turning into a game of chucking shots up.
A main concern with the Bucks roster is the size of the guards. When the Raps had the ball, DeMar DeRozan took advantage of the smaller guards, scoring 21 points on 7 of 10 shooting.
Monta Ellis put up points, as he often does. The issue was more with the matter in which he did it. There were stretches where he would just run up the court in shoot the ball like he had a “Gamebreaker” on NBA Street. Granted, those were amazing shots when they went in, but then the well ran dry and the Bucks were in bad shape with him looking to regain that rhythm. This is the Monta Ellis Experience.
Brandon Jennings wasn’t quite as aggressive attacking the rim against Toronto but he did get the ball to the hot man and managed to rack up 10 assists. The 10 assists were nice, but Jennings did finish 3-15 from the field.
To further the problem with tonight’s play was the problem rebounding. While it began as a fairly even rebounding game, Toronto pulled away 49-40 on the boards, handing the Bucks another woeful rebounding night. Again, this became a problem when Dalembert was resting. But this has been a repeated problem for the Bucks, as they’ve now been out-rebounded in each of the past four games.
The CAN’T MISS issue here was bench production. Mike Dunleavy did his part as expected, coming off of the bench with 21 points and five rebounds. Other than that, Milwaukee bench looked stagnant as the rest of the reserves scored 14 points combined.
It’s only the preseason, so Bucks fans shouldn’t be pressing the panic button. But still there are real problems that were evident in this game. Bench production, attacking the rim, rebounding and shot selection. Oh, and defense. Always defense. While bench production shouldn’t be too much of an issue given that depth is supposed to be a relative strength of this team, the other issues seem like serious ones. Welcome to the future, it’s awfully similar to the past.
The Bucks take on Bobcats in Charlotte Thursday. The Raptors take travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies Thursday.
WAIT! IT’S NOT OVER: A FEW NOTES ON TONIGHT’S GAME
- The starters were solid overall, Samuel Dalembert was a center playing center, something that the Bucks haven’t had in a while. He reeled in 11 boards and did his job.
- Tobias Harris struggled with three points and four rebounds as a starter.
- Ellis himself began each half on fire but I was concerned that the quick start would translate into an inefficient, high scoring night. He finished with a cool 26 points on a not-so-cool 11 of 24 shooting.
- Ersan Ilyasova had another strong night, scoring 19 and bringing down 7 boards.
- Toronto got off to an 8-0 run in the fourth, would ultimately outscore the Bucks in the final quarter 30-18.
- Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas was impressive tonight with 10 points and 8 boards. Look out for that guy.