|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 26 MIN | 2-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -1
He looks hesitant to shoot. Milwaukee got a shot clock violation on one possession and an ugly, short Zaza Pachulia jumper on another possession, both times because Ersan passed up modestly covered looks at threes from the top of the arc. Those are the shots he’s supposed to be the expert at. Fire with impunity, Ersan. That’s why you are playing.
|Jabari Parker, SF 27 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -2
After displaying an impressive post game in the preseason, I’d been left wondering when it would be put on display in games that matter. The answer was Tuesday night in Indiana. Parker had four or five looks in the post that came courtesy of sets designed for him to catch with his back to the basket. He made a few jumpers out of those sets and drew a foul on another one. He looked good, he looked comfortable. He made a mistake defensively that allowed an open Chris Copeland three when Copeland was practically Indy’s whole offense late in the game, but we’ll chalk that up as a learning opportunity … for now.
|Larry Sanders, C 23 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +9
Without scoring, Sanders made a huge impact. That’s tough to pull off. His rebounding was huge for a team that could hardly keep the Pacers off the glass and his defense on Roy Hibbert was impressive. Hibbert couldn’t back down Sanders without having the ball poked away by Milwaukee’s equally quick and long-armed big man.
|Brandon Knight, PG 29 MIN | 10-16 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 23 PTS | +2
It’s like there were two versions of the Bucks offense in this game.
One version featured Knight slicing into the Pacers paint while operating out of pick and rolls. On occasion, this led to a successful attempted basket. On many other occasions, this led to a forced shot or a turnover. It didn’t seem to lead to a very cohesive and sustainable offense.
Another version featured the Bucks moving the ball around and running sets rather than relying on the pick and roll to create offense. Sometimes, Knight was in the game while this was happening and he benefitted as much as any of his teammates from the ball and player movement. He can be a very functional point guard when he isn’t asked to create an offense out of pick and rolls. We knew that before Tuesday night. We were reminded of it over and over again on Tuesday night.
|Jared Dudley, SG 26 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1
The cries for a move to the bench for Jared Dudley will not grow softer or less numerous Wednesday morning. He missed a lot of shots and didn’t seem to contribute a whole lot, other than being as solid as the rest of his teammates at rotating defensively.
|Khris Middleton, PF 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +8
He was fairly quiet offensively after being way more prominently involved in the first few games of the season. His impact was as obvious as anyone else’s defensively, as he used his length to tip away a few passes. He had a real nice move after a catch when a defender closed out hard, opening up a driving lane for him. He drove into the paint and calmly hit a short jumper. That sort of counter move is looking more and more natural for him.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 20 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -5
While he struggled at times with both rebounding and defending Roy Hibbert, he was a positive contributor to a Bucks offense that relied on player and ball movement. His work out of the high post, tonight as a scorer and a passer actually, remains stellar.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 20 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +5
He looks like a tremendous backup point guard that a team both capable of contending and willing to contend for the playoffs could use. There is no questioning that Bayless and his jump shot contributed a great deal to this Bucks win. If the goal of this team is to win each game, then he makes sense. If the goal of this team is to develop or find rotation players for a future Bucks team, I’m not sure he makes much sense. I can’t in good conscience keep giving him a C though.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 17 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +5
The Greek put his post game on display with a few moves in the second half. He proceeded to step out of bounds and travel on nearly consecutive (if not consecutive) as the fourth quarter went on, but for a moment, he looked very good and his nine straight points to close the third quarter and open the fourth quarter helped the Bucks stabilize after a five minute scoring draught.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 22 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | +7
The nine points look quiet, but his passing was sensational and each of his five assists were well earned setups that gave his teammates good looks for baskets. His play has been so lively and joyful. He looks like such a natural so far this season, like basketball is so fun and easy for him. It’s been a pleasure to watch. He even was hustling around the court, intercepting passes and playing aggressive defense.
Kidd will receive criticism for playing John Henson only nine minutes and Giannis only 17, but I thought the team’s offensive game plan against the Pacers was strong. They didn’t focus so heavily on pick and rolls that go them in the paint, rather the team kept moving the ball and finding guys on the move. Defensively the Bucks seem to be responding to the staff and playing with great effort. The Bucks rotated very hard all game and made the Pacers make extra and contested passes that rarely led to open, simple looks. Kudos to Kidd for getting his guys to buy in and play with energy.
Two Things We Saw
- After turning the ball over constantly in Washington, Milwaukee had only 13 turnovers against the Pacers. Just as important, the Bucks scored 28 points off 19 Pacer turnovers. Milwaukee continues to get up the court and look for every opportunity to get offense on the break or out of a secondary break. It paid huge dividends against the Pacers.
- Check out the Bucksketball Podcast from late last night for more thoughts.