An unhappy Brandon Jennings sits on the bench, probably thinking about the waves of defenders Miami sent at him.  (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
An unhappy Brandon Jennings sits on the bench, probably thinking about the waves of defenders Miami sent at him. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Another game against the Miami Heat, another rough night for Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.

Milwaukee’s diminutive guards are capable of impressive nights. Nights filled with highlight reel fast breaks, long threes, flashy passes and swaggy celebrations. At their very best, they’re fast, capable of creating turnovers and impressive scorers.

At their worst, Jennings and Ellis still make an impact, just not a positive one. They can be corralled, forced away from the hoop and turned into spot-up shooters that aren’t very good at shooting.

Welcome to game three.

From the outset, Miami made one thing clear: We’re going to throw intense pressure at Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Set a screen for them? We’re commiting both defenders to whichever one of them is handling the ball. We’ll make them give it up to someone near them, because they aren’t going to be able to pass over our sizable  athletic defenders. Example one comes in the first quarter:

After a Larry Sanders screen, Ellis found himself facing two Heat defenders, with a difficult angle to find the only open Bucks player on the court, Luc Mbah a Moute in the right corner.
After a Larry Sanders screen, Ellis found himself facing two Heat defenders, with a difficult angle to find the only open Bucks player on the court, Luc Mbah a Moute in the right corner.

Bucks coach Jim Boylan addressed a question about Miami’s trapping and aggressive defense in the post game.

“One of the problems that we have is our size in the back court,” he said. “We’re not a big team. So when they’re out there trapping and staying with the ball handler like that, they put a lot of pressure on you first of all. Secondly they have good size. So it’s easy for me to stand up here or in the huddle and say, “We’ve got to make a quick pass we’ve got to move that ball we’ve got to take advantage of their double teaming.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to do. And they’re flooding the strong side and cutting off passing angles. That makes it difficult to find the right man, the open man, with a quick pas. It’s usually a cross court type of pass and those are always dangerous because of their speed and activity  That bothered us tonight.”

Another Sanders screen, another terrible angle for a Bucks guard. Jennings was forced away from the hoop and you can actually see him backpedaling here. As Boylan noted, his size doesn't give him much opportunity to see over Chalmers and Haslem.
Another Sanders screen, another terrible angle for a Bucks guard. Jennings was forced away from the hoop and you can actually see him backpedaling here. As Boylan noted, his size doesn’t give him much opportunity to see over Chalmers and Haslem.

But it’s not just Milwaukee’s size that proved an issue. The Bucks were often left unable to exploit mismatches because of talent deficiencies. Whether it was Ekpe Udoh matched up with a smaller player inside or an open Luc Mbah a Moute on the wing, the Bucks often couldn’t exploit opportunities because the players in position to do so just weren’t very good.

Here, after another screen, this one by Ekpe Udoh who immediately got to the post, Chris Andersen completely abandoned his assignment to provide help. Miami overloaded heavy on the strong side and figured the short clock and their size/speed would make things tough for Jennings. This play ended with a Jennings pass, 15-feet over the head of Dunleavy in the corner.
Here, after another screen, this one by Ekpe Udoh who immediately got to the post, Chris Andersen completely abandoned his assignment to provide help. Miami overloaded heavy on the strong side and figured the short clock and their size/speed would make things tough for Jennings. This play ended with a Jennings pass, 15-feet over the head of Dunleavy in the corner.
After an Ilyasova screen, James and Chalmers chase Jennings away from the hoop once again. When James sprints back, he doesn't even bother with Ilyasova, as Wade has already picked him up. Miami's size and speed again make matching up no issue for them, regardless of what switch needs to happen. And they weren't at all concerned about who ended up on Mbah a Moute.
After an Ilyasova screen, James and Chalmers chase Jennings away from the hoop once again. When James sprints back, he doesn’t even bother with Ilyasova, as Wade has already picked him up. Miami’s size and speed again make matching up no issue for them, regardless of what switch needs to happen. And they weren’t at all concerned about who ended up on Mbah a Moute.
Jennings is once again met with a hard hedge, this time from Haslem again, before he passed out to Ellis. Technically, the Bucks with some quick passing could have exploited Miami's aggressiveness, as Wade is deep into the paint, sagging far off Mbah a Moute. A quick pass and swing to Mbah a Moute could have given Milwaukee an open three. But Luc doesn't provide much of a threat and Miami doesn't treat him as if he does.
Jennings is once again met with a hard hedge, this time from Haslem again, before he passed out to Ellis. Technically, the Bucks with some quick passing could have exploited Miami’s aggressiveness, as Wade is deep into the paint, sagging far off Mbah a Moute. A quick pass and swing to Mbah a Moute could have given Milwaukee an open three. But Luc doesn’t provide much of a threat and Miami doesn’t treat him as if he does.

Can the Bucks counter in game four? Maybe. They’ll have to be clever and quick and execute as well as they have all season long. In the first quarter, when Milwaukee was moving the ball fast and hitting three point looks they were getting, it looked like it was possible. But the game goes for 48 minutes. So far, the Bucks have shown they can execute on par or even better than the Heat for roughly 24-30 minutes. After that, the Heat take over.

There’s little reason to believe game four will be any different.