|Ersan Ilyasova, SF 24 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | 0
He’s still coming back off an ankle injury and he can’t really anchor a small ball lineup, so that’s why Ers only played 24 minutes. But he was serviceable in his limited time. Like most fours and fives on the Bucks Saturday night, he didn’t contribute much as a rebounder, which is odd, because typically that’s kind of his thing.
|Larry Sanders, C 22 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -1
Another night, another struggle for Sanders. He started last season with four consecutive double-doubles, but this year it’s looking like he’ll start the season unable to get any crucial minutes thanks to his struggles on the glass and at the rim. His 2-8 FG night had nothing to do with him stepping out too far from the rim, he just had trouble putting the ball in the basket right at the rim. He struggled again with a big, physical center, as Jonas Valanciunas beat him up on the boards early. It’s still to early to be “concerned” about what’s happening with Larry, but hopefully these are the worst games he has. He’s the only player who had a “bad” game, but it was kind of a big deal, because he’s supposed to be a big part of the Bucks. That forces everyone else into different roles and kind of crushes the team. Sigh.
|Nate Wolters, PG 36 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -1
Another night, another strong game from Nate. He led the team in minutes and he’s really earned Larry Drew’s trust. After the game, Drew said he had to have Wolters on the floor because he was the only guy that could really get the Bucks into their sets and make the offense start moving. This is less than ideal, but expected with the Bucks down their two regular point guards. The 10 assists were a career high, as most things Wolters does are a career high.
|Gary Neal, SG 26 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -5
Gary Neal Will Shoot.That’s probably what his name should be. Because he’s not afraid of getting some shots up. He’ll be much better once he’s coming off the bench in a smaller role when Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour are back. He’s being asked to do too much right now and not producing a whole lot.
|John Henson, PF 25 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -7
For as disappointing as Larry Sanders has been, John Henson has been impressive. At least offensively. His touch is there on the left-handed hook. He made six shots on Saturday night and I’d say at least four of them, AT LEAST, were via the left-handed hook. It’s his go-to delivery system for baskets in the NBA. The Bucks were all sorts of dominated on the glass though, and like most of the team’s bigs, he was unable to help out much.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 14 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -11
His run of great games is over. At one point, Zaza was guarding Tyler Hansbrough and I was waiting for the two of them to start exchanging blows. It was one of the moments in the game that entertained me the most. This was not a super entertaining game before the fourth quarter.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 17 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6
He earned playing time down the stretch by making an impressive play or two. First, he cut along the baseline, took a pass and dunked. Then, DeMar DeRozan started to try and beat him on the other end and he used that long arm of his to reach around and steal the ball, igniting a breakaway. Giannis doesn’t seem to get the ball on offense unless he’s cutting to the hoop, so fortunately he’s been cutting quite a bit, but generally he isn’t put in a position to contribute much. The more he finds ways to get involved, the better.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 33 MIN | 6-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | -6
Milwaukee doesn’t have a “star” player, especially if Larry Sanders isn’t one. Mayo is probably the next closest thing, so it’s a bummer that he was late to shootaround and had to come off the bench. On the plus side, he responded with his best game as a member of the team. He was fairly quiet until the third quarter when he drained back-to-back threes and started looking for the ball and his shot some more. The more he’s taking things upon himself on offense, probably the better, because the Bucks are often looking pretty hopeless with the ball and he’s the team’s most accomplished scorer.
Drew said he was surprised about the team’s lack of energy for a home opener. They didn’t get out to much to a start and seemed lethargic to him. He couldn’t put his finger on why. This was Milwaukee’s third starting lineup in three games and third crunch time lineup in three games, as Drew went small at the end of the game to counter the Raptors big, physical lineups. It worked to a degree, as Milwaukee staged yet another comeback, but it’s clear that he’s still figuring out just what he’s got and how to make it work better.
Three Things We Saw
- Thanks in part to Sanders’ struggles, Milwaukee was crushed on the glass 60-38. The Raptors had 21 second chance points, while the Bucks had just four. In a seven point game, it’s hard not to look at that and assume it was a big reason why the Bucks lost.
- This whole “fall behind by double digits and then frantically come back in the fourth quarter” probably isn’t a sustainable success strategy. Milwaukee needs to figure out how to get leads early and play from ahead. This is something that’s probably easier said than done and seems very simplistic. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. We literally have no idea what this team is like with an early lead, as they haven’t had one yet through three games.
- Three point shooting was supposed to be a strength for Milwaukee, and they were a not bad 6-17 from deep, but the problem is that guards on the Bucks have trouble creating good looks for anyone else from deep. So the Bucks have taken a lot of “meh” contested looks from deep. Those are not ideal shots.