Carbon copy: Mavericks 91 – Bucks 83

(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
In this situation, he was probably, Cawrong Butler, AMIRIGHT?! (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Dallas Mavericks 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
83 Milwaukee Bucks
John Henson, PF 27 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -11

Oh, the struggle When Milwaukee went big down the stretch, he manned the power forward slot opposite Dirk Nowitzki and really struggled playing pick and roll defense against Monta Ellis and Nowitzki or anyone else Nowitzki screened for. He looked lost. Sometimes he hedged, sometimes he didn’t, either way, he rarely made an impact.

Caron Butler, SF 38 MIN | 7-19 FG | 2-3 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 19 PTS | -1

In five games this season, Butler has had more points than shots just twice. That’s not ideal for one of the team’s leaders in shot attempts and minutes. He took more than one questionable shot down the stretch, which Larry Drew surely thought about as he chastised his team’s selfish play late in the fourth quarter when talking to the media after the game. On the plus side, he was one of precious few Bucks grabbing rebounds.

Zaza Pachulia, C 38 MIN | 1-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -1

The magic finally went away for both Pachuila and Wolters. His 38 minutes came on the heels of a 41 minute night and it’s safe to say it’s dangerous/less than ideal if Zaza Pachulia is averaging nearly 40 minutes over any stretch of games for your basketball team. He does the whole toughness thing pretty well, but he’ll have more games like this one than he will like Wednesday night.

Nate Wolters, PG 36 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -9

Much like Pachuila, midnight finally came for Wolters. He kept his turnovers down, but wasn’t really able to contribute much else offensively for a team that definitely needed someone to contribute more offensively. I’m fine with a team that’s shooting threes a lot, but someone needs to be able to get to the basket every now and then. Wolters did not do that.

O.J. Mayo, SG 37 MIN | 11-20 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 28 PTS | -3

He may have been a little too inspired at times against the team that cast him aside after last season, but Mayo was at least working to create some shots. His six turnovers were a sign of a bit too much aggression, but it’s hard to complain about this sort of shooting night.

Khris Middleton, PF 18 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +6

He wasn’t crushed by Dirk when he had to guard him in a small ball lineup in the fourth quarter, but he couldn’t help on the glass like the Bucks sorely needed. His spot-up 3-point shooting game is strong, but he can’t contribute much else on offense. Even with Dirk Nowitzki on him, the Bucks still didn’t look his way to create anything.

Ekpe Udoh, PF 12 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5

As Ekpe would say: Yeesh. DeJuan Blair showed him what was what on the glass.

Brandon Knight, PG 15 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -6

For essentially his debut, not too bad. He certainly exhibited some rust, but that’s to be expected. His first half was very sloppy and disjointed and he doesn’t really show signs of being a “playmaker”, but let’s let this thing develop before we make decisions. I think Nate Wolters showed us tonight that more than a few games are necessary before we anoint anyone anything.

Larry Drew

He’s still figuring this team out and I think they are still figuring out what they want from him. Something’s going to have to give at some point. Drew was visibly displeased after the game, citing how much this game reminded him of what he’s already seen this season.

“I’m tired of playing comeback basketball,” he said. “I really am. It just takes too much out of you, which I told our guys. Just a carbon copy of our game up in New York, our game in Boston. We get down because offensively we don’t execute, we don’t move the ball, we keep the ball on one side of the floor and we just start playing one on one. And for us, that is a recipe for disaster for us.”

He went small in the fourth quarter with Butler and Middleton as his forwards, but again was willing to switch it up down the stretch when he brought in Henson for Middleton. Nothing worked.

Three Things We Saw

  1. No Giannis again, which will surely upset some people.
  2. Monta Ellis was the hot-button issue all night. He finished with 18 points on 6-14 FG. He was typically balanced in his drives to shoot and drives to pass, but didn’t get a ton of help from his teammates on finishes. He scored just six points in the second half as Milwaukee made sure a few defenders met him near the rim more often. He referred to himself in third person after the game, just for old time’s sake.
  3. Milwaukee was down 34-19 after the first quarter, which is very much like most first quarters for the Bucks this season.

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  1. More Khris and John, less Caron and Zaza — though the latter two can still play important roles, especially the latter of the latter two. In general, I’d like to see a lot of guys playing 22-34 minutes and rarely any of them playing close to 40 minutes. For one thing, there aren’t any standouts on the team; and secondly, we can try to keep guys fresh and outhustle teams for wins — with our best performers playing down the stretch.
    With so many guys who are good but not great, I’d go more with the younger guys, at least a couple of whom have the potential to be great, or at least very good. Plus, I’d try to bundle two or three of our players to get a more natural and/or more experienced point guard. We could still develop Brandon and/or Nate as point guards along the way, but in the meantime, we really need someone to help get the offense going.
    I’d also consider sending Nate and/or Giannis to the D-League not as a demotion but as an opportunity for minutes and maturity.
    I know it’s early in the season; but these are my moves based on my best impressions, and I’m very open to what others think. I hope my comments are considered positive and/or sensible even if there is healthy disagreement.

    • I don’t suspect we’ll be seeing D-League for those guys. Seems like the Bucks would rather have them in the NBA practicing and playing spot-minutes than send them down for larger minutes.

      • Thanks for your read on the situation, Jeremy. One option for the Bucks would be to send one guy to the D-League at a time, perhaps even rotating them based on their development and team needs.
        Another option would be to actually play both Nate and Giannis, giving each at least enough time to get into the flow of the game, in other words at least 15 minutes most nights. It might be that Nate rates in the 20-30 minute range, but I’d sure like to bring in another point guard to bring more leadership and craftsmanship to the position.
        I’ve expressed concerns about both Nate and Giannis in the past, but if they’re at all ready, I’d be happy to see them get a chance and to do as well as possible.

        • Not really sure why you are so set on sending those guys to D-League. Naters is already played 36 minutes the last few games. As a pass first point guard, I see his game a little weak as far as orchestrating but as he brings the ball up the floor he gets to the top of the key with nobody moving off the ball. Especially this game I noticed a lack of not only passing but no rotation. No cuts, poorly executed pick and rolls. I don’t know where to start. Nate will initiate a pass cut to a wing and then the ball just stops. I think at that point he’s expecting the other guys to start making some moves to set up a play but like Coach Drew was quoted “we start playing one on one.” I don’t think Nate needs to go to D-League, he has proved he can play already just needs to learn how to orchestrate his offense and get them to move. I can only assume he scratches his head at times because he has been used to how his college team actually played as a team and not just five guys on the floor standing around. I feel like Coach is more at fault right now. Granted he is still observing what each of his players are bringing to the table. He should be giving them more guidance running offensive sets. Maybe I am blind and over reacting but it seems right now like he is coach a little more hands off for the time being to see how his team executes what they practice but I think he should be pushing his guys a little more during games. I hate thinking this but hated the way Scott Skiles always just sat there during games with a plain look on his face and was fairly uninvolved. Don’t want to see Larry Drew the same way. I will try to reserve any fierce judgement until later this season to see how things pan out but as of now they look like a team with a lot of potential but aren’t playing like it yet.

  2. I like Caron, seems genuine in his appreciation that he gets to come home and play for the Bucks; but, how is he still playing and playing huge minutes? If he isn’t going to play average or better why not just play the 2 young guys and see what they can do.

    Whenever Delfino comes back that means the end to Middleton’s few minutes and Giannis has already vanished off the face of the earth.

    I like seeing Henson play big minutes, but this is about as bad of a matchup for him in the league. He doesn’t guard shooting bigs well on their own, esp. not ones that pick and roll as well as Dirk.

  3. Wolters played just fine, the lack of movement on the part of his teammates is not his fault. You don’t necessarily need to be a prolific scorer to be a pg.

    • I commented above without reading much else first, but I am glad I am not the only one to think what you just said. Nobody freaking moves. I tend to go off on tangents a lot and this is a huge focal point for me. I think Wolters has absolutely no problem assuming the role of pass first PG because the guy is a team player and is at this point in his career honored to just be getting playing time let alone starting and playing about 3 whole quarters per game thus far. In college though he was a scorer and I think he is just trying figuring out his somewhat new role in a league where it’s tough to get guys motivated to play night in and night out. Like you said you can’t blame him for other guys not moving around or passing the ball.

      • I like Nate’s game so far; I’m not set on sending him to D-League; but I’m not so sure he is ready to be our main point guard, and rather doubt it. If it’s true that his teammates aren’t helping him out all that much, it might also be true that we need a more experienced guy to help run the show, possibly in partnership with Nate and Brandon as they learn the point position.
        Question is, I don’t know who’s out there as a point guard who is realistically attainable. It does seem, however, that we have some guys to trade (if enough of them are healthy) — although I hope we keep Khris Middleton.

  4. I don’t know what game you guys were watching, but some of the player grades and comments here are over-exaggerations. The frustration about lack of movement has almost nothing to do with Wolters. The biggest culprits I see are Butler, Mayo (not surprising) and Neal (of coarse). Brandon Knight also used this game to get himself “back” even though most of his shots were me-first and ill-advised. I’ve watched every minute this year and both of Wolters only two 3-point makes have come on actual ball reversals. Almost never are the wing players driving and dishing back out to Wolters, either for an open shot or even an offensive reset. I understand this is pro basketball and the veterans need their shots, but the ball is very clearly getting “stuck” on the wings after an initial pass. Nate needs to get more aggressive directing traffic or calling his own number (pick n roll). It’s pretty obvious that Butler and Neal know their positions and playing time will get cloudy as the team gets healthier and are pushing to showcase themselves. It’s not surprising the team leaders in +/- are Puchulia, Wolters, Middleton, Henson and Giannis. All of these guys are unselfish and play team basketball. This game was doomed in the 1st quarter yet again when Butler and Neal were busy “contributing”.

  5. When in doubt, I’d go with the younger guys. As far as the older guys, I’d play the ones who are the most team-oriented. After Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings last year, we don’t need other veterans to come in to dominate the ball. As the season settles in a little more, perhaps by Thanksgiving, maybe coach Drew will get a handle on who’s in it more for the team and who’s in it more for themselves — and reward the team guys with more minutes. Without any real stars on this team, why not go with the guys who are willing to share the ball and play defense?