|Jabari Parker, SF 22 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -5
The numbers do not reflect this, but I always get the feeling that Parker starts strong and fades as the game goes on. It’s backed up to an extent: He’s averaged 4.9 points in the first quarter this year against 2.0 points in the fourth quarter. On Wednesday night, he scored four points in the first quarter and zero in the fourth. He was largely a non-factor in the second half, once the Mavericks went to a zone and the Bucks were looking for shooters. His attacking remains a strength, but Wednesday was a reminder of where his weaknesses are and how they can be exploited.
|Larry Sanders, C 22 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -11
Even when Sanders was on the court, the Bucks struggled badly to rebound the ball. He alone isn’t the answer to Milwaukee’s frequent rebounding problems, certainly not against Tyson Chandler, who grabbed 10 (!) offensive rebounds.
|Brandon Knight, PG 32 MIN | 8-16 FG | 7-7 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 25 PTS | -9
Another strong night for Milwaukee’s point guard. He was called for a moving screen with 26 seconds left, a rare dead ball turnover for Knight, but he did his best to make up for that folly with a long jumper that tied the game before Monta Ellis sucked all of the air out of the Bradley Center and took it back to Dallas with him.
Knight’s recent uptick in 3-point shooting has been a boon for the Bucks offense too.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 27 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -8
Poor Mayo couldn’t have defended Ellis any better on the last possession and he still got burned. Such is life in the NBA.
Also part of life in the NBA? Shooting streaks. Mayo had missed 12 straight threes over his last three games before hitting two of his three attempts on Wednesday. His passing has been fairly consistent, so when he’s able to pitch in that scoring from deep too, he makes a fairly big impact on the game.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | 0
Giannis met the same fate as Parker. His lack of shooting got him out of this game in the third quarter, never to return.
|Khris Middleton, PF 30 MIN | 8-13 FG | 4-6 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTS | -2
He was the answer to Milwaukee’s shooting problems. His six points pocketed within the middle of the third quarter were crucial and helped keep the game from getting away from Milwaukee when the Dallas zone ceased the Bucks offensive production. He was one of Milwaukee’s only rebounders on the evening as well. It looks like he’s getting more and more comfortable and productive off the bench. He’s now made six of his last 10 threes over his past five games.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 26 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +9
Two more elbow jumpers for Zaza. With Ersan out, he’s practically a stretch big for the Bucks. Beyond his offensive production, it seems like Kidd trusted him more when Milwaukee really needed a rebound, which isn’t great for those who bought Larry Sanders stock.
|Kendall Marshall, PG 16 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +7
Sometimes there’s a clear drop off defensively that seems to negate anything Marshall does offensively when he come in the game. This wasn’t clear on Wednesday, which is a great thing. He definitely keeps the ball moving quick and is aware of matchups where Milwaukee has an advantage. He found Middleton for an easy basket when JJ Barea was covering him and again pushed the ball up to him, which led to an open corner three after rotations for Jared Dudley. His quick ball movement really fits Milwaukee’s offensive philosophy.
|Jared Dudley, SG 26 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +3
He’s another example of a guy who’s shooting better lately. He’s hit better than 60% of his shots over his past five games and has become the 3-point shooter the Bucks expected him to be when they brought him in.
His lineups often draw reaction, one way or the other. He had to make more drastic changes than usual on Wednesday, as Milwaukee encountered a third quarter zone they struggled to deal with. Results were generally successful, as he inserted more Middleton and Dudley than usual and those two guys played well. More generally, the Bucks are still moving the ball with a crispness that’s benefiting them quite a bit and he’s been preaching that pretty hard.
Four Things We Saw
- So … did Monta travel? Probably. The whole play was crazy. He held the ball forever and almost set himself up for the most difficult shot possible, which, of course, he hit. Because that’s just how Monta is sometimes.
- Dirk did not play. Good thing I wrote practically a whole preview about him. I hate things. But that made this game an even bigger opportunity for the Bucks, which has to be driving them mad right now.
- Suddenly offense doesn’t seem like such a problem for Milwaukee. Outside of the third quarter, the Bucks hummed along all night. Even without Giannis and Parker for most of the game, they ended up with three quarters over 27 points. Middleton was a huge factor here, as was Dudley.
- After a tough loss to the Cavs, Milwaukee found a way to break even more hearts. But not really, because as long as the Bucks are being competitive, it seems like everyone is fairly pleased. But from a “Will the Bucks make the playoffs this season?” perspective, a loss like this one will sting at the end of the season.