Almost. Almost. Almost. No: Bulls 95 – Bucks 86

Chicago Bulls 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
86 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 16 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -13

All seven of Ilyasova’s points came in the first quarter. A night defending Taj Gibson was not a night this Bucks forward was built for and it seemed like Jason Kidd was aware of that. Still, it was fun to see him stick a few jump shots and actually get to the rim and finish a finger roll. Look at that picture up there! There’s still some life!

Jabari Parker, SF 25 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -19

There are times when Parker looks smooth and natural, mainly when he’s in the post and making a move. Then there are times where Parker looks a bit hesitant and takes the route of least resistance, a pull-up jump shot. The latter happens more frequently than the former, which goes a long way in explaining his meager field goal percentages thus far. Like Ersan, he started strong and faded (1Q: 6 points, 4 rebounds).

Jason Kidd was asked after the game how long it might take for Parker to get in the flow of the league. Would it be 10 games, 20 games? Kidd said it might take 82. It’s a tough league. Hopefully Parker’s skills and prior experiences won’t leave him with quite such a large learning curve.

Larry Sanders, C 23 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -9

A player like Gasol gives Sanders a bit more trouble. Early on the in the game he was pulling Larry away from the hoop or he was getting open jump shots when Sanders stuck by the hoop to help his teammates. Stretchier bigs aren’t so easy to defend.

On the other end, Sanders continued to struggle finishing around the hoop. He missed a dunk! And some layups. I seem to recall his hands being an issue early on in his career, but didn’t notice it so much the last two seasons. Also his first attempt was a jumper and he released the ball on the way down, which he used to do all the time. Here’s hoping he irons out these wrinkles again and can start finishing some of the offensive rebounds he’s getting (five total).

Brandon Knight, PG 32 MIN | 3-15 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 7 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -19

He had to chuck up a couple of threes at the end of the game out of desperation, so that 3-15 FG line isn’t quite an accurate reflection. But the spirit of that line is probably right. At some point we might just have to accept Knight won’t be the point guard that many people think the point guard on a team should be. I know it seems wild when he drives into the paint, like he’s a man without a cause, but he’s been racking up assists and finding teammates on drives all season. Maybe he knows more about what he’s doing on attacks than we’re giving him credit for.

On the other hand, he’s still getting very little in pick and rolls, especially late in games. Milwaukee’s late game offense has been bad and Kidd noted after the game that teams, including the Bucks, typically go to pick and rolls late. There’s certainly a correlation there and he needs to get the Bucks on track if the ball is going to be in his hands in these situations late. Kidd contested that the Bucks are getting good shots late and that they are just not falling. Eh.

Jared Dudley, SG 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -7


Khris Middleton, PF 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +9

He didn’t do much offensively other than finish a couple shots around the rim and miss some jumpers. For a guy who was almost Milwaukee’s offensive centerpiece in the first game of the season, he’s sure been minimized. But here’s the thing: Everyone has been. This team is so balanced, possibly to a fault. Everyone is giving up shots and minutes to each other. So long as they are all on the same page, this can lead to some entertaining basketball, as the first 45 minutes of this game showed.

John Henson, C 12 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -4

He’s in a very tough spot. Against an athletic Bulls front court, it seemed like a night where Henson would reclaim some minutes, but the shift of Giannis to the four for most of the night left him behind Sanders and Pachulia at the five.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +8

DUNK. Bayless dunked on the Yugoslavian forward Mirotic and let out a primal scream after. He was immediately hit with a technical, which seemed excessive. Bayless is a bit of a fire starter on the court. He got into it with Roy Hibbert in Indiana too. He’s kind of fun. He’d be real fun if he were on the right team. Sigh.

But no question, he was apart of some of Milwaukee’s best offensive units.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 27 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +7

Real fun Giannis game. He did a fadeaway jumper off one foot ala Dirk. He caught a long lob and finished. He dunked on Taj Gibson and saw it rattle home. He was crashing the boards. He was defending at the four late in the game. He was real solid. Giannis doesn’t have to play the point guard to be interesting.

O.J. Mayo, SG 27 MIN | 3-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -1

Not a great shooting night for Juice, but he continued to look for his teammates with frequency and it still looks real natural.

Jason Kidd
Who to play, who not to play? Kidd’s refrain has been the same each night on the matter of his rotation. He says that the team has a lot of guys that can play and he’s going to play a lot of guys and its on everyone to stay ready. As the season develops, we may see things change, but through five games, the Bucks have been pretty fun and competitive. Of course, this could quickly turn ugly if Milwaukee loses its next four games in a row. Players will be harmonious in wins, but in losses? Guys who want 20 minutes and are getting 10 might not feel so jolly and loyal to the cause.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Bulls fans. Lots of Bulls fans. But that made for a fun atmosphere while this game was competitive. Every time I looked up a call was getting booed or cheered and I never knew who was doing what. It was a bit of a college atmosphere and it made for some fun basketball.
  2. Milwaukee’s defense still looks good and the Bucks second unit looks good too. This is what’s going to keep the Bucks in games this season. This depth is a bit of a gift and a curse, if I may be cliched. You rarely know who’s going to play how much, but it gives the Bucks the opportunity to pull guys who aren’t playing with energy and keep fresh guys in the game on the defensive end at all times. Milwaukee didn’t play the aggressive, veteran style of defense Chicago did on Wednesday night, but they worked hard and were generally opportunistic when they created turnovers (23 points of 16 Bulls turnovers).

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  1. Disagree completely on the Ersan grade… this guy is THE glaring weakness on this team. Not sure why he’s even on the court. For the first time in 5 games, he FINALLY hit a couple of shots in the first quarter, but he disappeared after the 1st Q, and orchestrated an embarrassingly bad 3 play sequence in the 3rd quarter that led to 7 straight Bulls points and turned a 2 point Bucks lead into a 5 point deficit. The Bucks never really recovered after that. He deserves a D-, tops… and ONLY avoids an F because of the couple shots he made in the 1st. I don’t know what they expect this guy to turn into, but his game has only decayed since he signed his deal…. can’t shoot consistently, makes some of the most unathletic turnovers I’ve ever seen, is a hesitant / slow passer and can’t do anything near the rim without getting blocked. His poor play has already cost the Bucks 2 games on the young season, from what I’ve seen and could have very well cost them the Indiana game had Knight not saved the day. I think it’s time the Ersan era ended… I know I’ve seen enough.

    • The Bucks have got to let E.Ilyasova develop and grow his trade value so he can be moved prior to the trade deadline for future assets. If he rides the bench he won’t be able to do that.

      • I think he’s lost any trade value he once had… the time to move him was 2 years ago. Now he’s a couple years older, and his game has only deteriorated with more court time… not developed. To move him, someone would have to want him… who in this league would want him, (other than perhaps to acquire an expiring contract when the timing is right)? And who in this league would give up anything of value to get him? Only a GM that doesn’t value his continued employment. If he suddenly busts out and has a stretch of significant contribution this season, I’ll eat my words, but this is now the 3rd straight season he’s been worthless at the start of the year, and I would argue he would contribute more to the success of this team by NOT playing. He scored 7 total points last night… his mistakes alone led to 7 straight points in a 40 second stretch in the 3rd Q.

        • I think if you’re lucky by mid-season you might be able to get an expiring contract for Ersan, I doubt there’s much value to recoup. I have him on the “Most Likely to Be Stretch Provisioned 2015” list

      • We’ve been saying “Let Ersan develop” for years. I like him just as much as the next guy considering he’s been here the longest, but if he’s not going to take that open 3 pointer then why is he getting burn? It makes more sense to see what we really have in John Henson at the 4 and move Giannis to the 3.

    • bango goes the young buck

      AGREED! I’ve been a loyal Ers fan for years,….(ugh)giving him the benefit of the doubt to SOMEDAY turn it around. He shows flashes of stretch 4 talent, only to return to self lacking confidence style play. I see FEAR in his game….the plain simple fact is: Ers is no longer a viable option for the BUCKS. PLEASE TRADE HIM FOR BOTH PARTIES SAKE!!!!!

      On the other side of the coin….the BUCKS are putting on enjoyable games to watch, and win or lose=that’s a step in a positive direction

  2. Perhaps overly optimistic to say the Bucks almost, almost, almost won this game, when the team only scored 33 points in the second half. Most of Brandon’s assists were in the first quarter, I think, which seems to be a trend; as I’ve written, and as Jeremy notes above but with perhaps different conclusions, things get stickier for an offense near the end of the game, and the need for a point guard becomes more acute.
    Floundering around and flubbing the ball at the end of games is flabbergasting and frustrating (flustrating) — like a closing pitcher in baseball blowing a lead in the ninth — so this season is shaping up to be quite painful without a true point guard. That prospect of continuous basketball misery is partially why my comments here might continually come off as more than a little desperate.

    John Henson’s stats per 36: an impressive 18 points and 15 boards. There seems to always be a reason for not playing John, but not to my mind, a good reason. As I wrote yesterday in the game preview, we risk discouraging and even alienating him by never giving him a fair chance to develop on the court. No one, including me, is suggesting that we cut Jabari’s minutes because he went 4-12 last night and had a -19. I’m not saying that John is perfectly polished, but let’s let him play… please!

    I noted in the preview that another former Buck who didn’t seem to get a real chance on the court was coming off an impressive game against the Bulls. Tobias Harris followed up that fine effort with an even better showing against the Sixers, with 18 points, 8 boards, and a sweet buzzerbeater from about 20 feet to break a tie and give the Magic their first win. Lesson: Will the Bucks please stop wasting young talent? By the way, can you think of any young players in recent years who improved considerably under the tutelage of the Bucks?

    Finally, Khris goes 3-7with 11 points and +9; Brandon 3-15 with 10 points and -19, O.J. 3-12 with 9 points and -1. Yet all get the same grade. Why? It’s not Khris’ fault, to my mind, that he has lost his starting job and considerable minutes; given his limited role, I’m not sure what more he can reasonably be expected to do on the court to get better grades (the last two nights) from Bucksketball.

    • There’s no reasonable explanation why Bucks gave away Tobias Harris (22) for nothing, or why Bucks didn’t trade Ersan at last year’s deadline, or why Jason Kidd is developing Giannis to be a PG. It’s the Bucks, like the Jax Jags are to the NFL.

      • What do you think the Bucks could have got for a crappy, injured PF with 2 guaranteed years of 8m per?

        • An expiring contract (eg Kendrick Perkins, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, Tayshaun Prince, Marcus Thornton, Jordan Hill) and a second round pick in 2000-something. Teams always looking for a stretch 4. Save $8MM in 2015-2016, and add another draft pick. Small chance a playoff team would have offered a 1st rd knowing it would be late in the round.

      • Is it healthy to still be super pissed off about Tobias Harris’ departure from this team? Still hurts just thinking about it.

        • It’s worth remembering Tobias to avoid making the same mistake with John Henson and others.

          However, I’ll try not to let it bother me too much or bring it up too often.

      • There’s wisdom in these words. Thanks , Blah Blah, for some perspective to help me lighten up at least a little.

    • It’s about more than points and I don’t think single game plus/minus is a good reflection of production. Knight was also one of the team’s leading rebounders. Mayo moved the ball exceptionally well and even found Middleton for at least one basket.

      • Hey, Jeremy, I guess at the root I’ve been hoping that you (and others) will rally around our young guys like John and Khris when they’re being underappreciated by the Bucks. I do realize and respect that you might have another opininion or might simply choose to keep some opinions to yourself. Though I might be misguided in urging my opinions to a fault, please take it as a compliment that I value what you (and others) have to say — enough so that I try to sway you. I’ll try not to get carried away in doing so.

        • I think it is worth noting that Khris Middleton developed quite a bit last season and appears to be a viable rotation player, even though he couldn’t get off the bench as a rookie in Detroit. And Larry Sanders has turned into one of the league’s top 10 or so defensive big men. And that Brandon Knight is currently 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. And Giannis has improved by almost all measure over last season.

          So I think it is unjust to say no young players have improved under the Bucks tutelage.

          They are making a mistake with Henson v. Ilyasova, almost without question. But perhaps the motive is early season minutes for Ersan to facilitate a trade? I don’t know. The Pistons and Grizzlies games will be interesting, given the size those teams have. They stack up well for Henson.

  3. Ugh. This team is so exciting to watch, even when they’re struggling. But for the most part, it’s our vets that are effing up. Zaza, Ersan and Dudley bricking jumpers, turning the ball over, missing rotations and stealing minutes from the young guys is already getting old after just 5 games. At least two of them HAVE to be traded soon but Ersan and Zaza’s contracts are terrible.

  4. What to do about Ersan? Ersan you say? well let’s see what ESPN say about our current “starting” power forward- Ersan.

    27 years of age (so much for the development angle). Points per game 5.2, rebs. 1.8. Shooting % 3.81%. Pers 9.12. (nba average pers is about 15 especially for starters).

    But let’s go even further to our other “starter” Jared Dudley. 29 years of age. Points per game 3.6. Rebs. 1.4. Shooting % 33%. Pers 7.27.

    No wonder we are 2 and 3. Can players perform much worse? C’mon Kidd do something realistic with playing time!!!