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:
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.”
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.
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.