Making do: Bucks 96 – Celtics 93

Boston Celtics 93 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 37 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 11 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +6 +/-

Giannis did not set a new career high. But he did make about five highlight plays, between his two blocks, five assists, 14 points and 11 rebounds. He shot another handful of jumpers, with varying results, and generally continued to show some growth while stealing the show with plays like a pick of Evan Turner’s pocket leading to a fast break dunk.

He also spent a fair amount of time at center, battling Jared Sullinger, which wasn’t a total disaster from a one on one perspective, but didn’t allow him to help out as much as he can when he’s on the wing. The versatility is nice, but it seems more ideal when he isn’t bogged down with some of those post defense responsibilities.

John Henson, C 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +1 +/-

His battle with Jared Sullinger raged for the majority of the night. Occasionally, Henson’s length would prevail like on a few late rebounds he skied for or on one of his patented left-hand hooks with 2:03 to play that put Milwaukee up three. And other times Sullinger was able to muscle him out of position and get baskets despite Henson’s advantaged limbs. Sullinger probably won when he was on offense, but he provided none of the defensive protection Henson did, which made a big difference for the Bucks. Sullinger couldn’t move side to side in the paint to cut off any lanes or block any shots and watching those inabilities was a reminder of what Henson does well on that end.

Brandon Knight, PG 38 MIN | 9-17 FG | 4-6 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 26 PTS | +1 +/-

The debate can rage on. Knight created a wonderful amount of offense for himself. He was finishing near the rim and hitting his jump shot enough to be dangerous. Any time a guy makes 4-8 3FG that’s the backbone of a good night and he combined that with a number of drives and finishes that left him with big number at the end of the night. His step back jumper with six seconds left provided the Bucks with a crucial three point lead that helped forced Boston into a tough final shot that wasn’t even close.

Jared Dudley, SG 24 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | 0 +/-

Boston didn’t have the combination of size, talent or necessity to force the ball at anyone Dudley was tasked with guarding inside, so he wasn’t a minus on defense really at any point during the game. He didn’t contribute too much offensively, but as always, he was there and he was a threat, which helps create room for guys like Knight and Giannis. And when he did get the occasional shot, he made it count half the time.

Khris Middleton, SG 35 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +9 +/-

A fairly quiet night overall, but his rebounding should not be overlooked. While Henson and Giannis spent a lot of time boxing out Sullinger, Middleton was swooping in and helping on loose ball rebounds, which were pivotal in their own right. Offensively he did a lot of what he usually does – make jump shots – but he also threw in at least one nice cut to the rim in which Giannis found him for an easy basket.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF 18 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -3 +/-

Seven of his nine points came in the second quarter, where he was hitting his jump shot a little bit. Outside of that stretch, he was basically a non-factor.

Jorge Gutierrez, PG 10 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2 +/-

He just kind of existed on the court. Whenever he replaced Brandon Knight, he was point guard in name only. He’d bring the ball up the court and the offense would run through either Jerryd Bayless or OJ Mayo. He served only as an outlet through which the ball could be moved. Once he shot a jumper, out of necessity more than anything else. Defensively, he seemed fine.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +4 +/-

Typical Bayless game. He came in and helped run a punchy second unit. He had his usual array of attacks of the basket and mid-range jumpers generally working, as the shooting line would indicate. He grabbed a handful of boards and moved the ball well enough. A run of the mill night, but that’s not a bad thing necessarily.

O.J. Mayo, SG 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -5 +/-

He helped keep the Bucks on track as the fourth quarter began, with eight points in the opening three minutes. Outside of that, he moved the ball typically well, though his shot was erratic and he searched for it a bit more than usual it seemed at times. But I’m not sure any (active guard I should say – shout out to Kendall Marshall) Bucks guard finds bigs in spots they want to be found as well as Mayo.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-


Kenyon Martin, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-


Zaza Pachulia, C DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-


Three Things We Saw

  1. Milwaukee was up three with sixish seconds to play and opted not to foul. It’s the age old question and Coach Jason Kidd was apparently confident enough in their defense to hold up against a Celtics team that had made only 7-29 3FG.
  2. Knight’s last step back jumper came after a lot of dribbling out the clock while other people stood around. Giannis came and set a screen for him and Kidd said if the mismatch was there, it was Knight’s decision if he wanted to kick it to Giannis to take advantage of a smaller player. He pretty much left the final possession up to Knight, which paid off in this circumstance, but is not without its flaws from a logic perspective.
  3. Certainly Milwaukee would have appreciated a bit more distance between themselves and the Celtics in the points column throughout the night, but they just couldn’t pull away. Every good stretch was followed by a shooting slump, which seemed to indicate simply relying on Knight wasn’t enough. Their ball movement was there in patches, but not all night long and without that movement, the offense seems to come and go.They did enough to beat Boston, but games like this, where they have to rely heavily on their defense and hope to muster enough on the other end, seem like they won’t be enough against better teams. For now though, they’ve survived yet again. 28-23.

Categories: Recaps



  1. The Bucks were OK. But now for the burning question: Has anyone else noticed the extreme resemblence between Marcus Thornton and Mr. Potato Head?

  2. Siphoning gas, ulterior motives, and the eternally aggrieved Swisch aside, Henson has really flourished in the absence of Sanders. I can’t help but notice how efficient he is and how much better he’s defending against other team’s big dude’s (like Sullinger). And it seems odd to me that he seemingly dominates games for a stretch and then, 3/4 of the way through he only has 10 points.

    I’m in favor of unleashing Henson, too — maybe not to the tune of 48 minutes a game — but certainly given a greater role in the offense and to allow him to anchor the defense for longer than just 20 minutes a game.

    • Thanks, John… I think. I’m pretty sure I should take something good from what you wrote. Anyway, I appreciate the support for John Henson.

      Maybe I get carried away all too often, but so far I’ve been right about Tobias (who on the night that Giannis had his career high of 27 points, scored a highly efficient 34 for the Magic — and he’s still only age 22), Khris Middleton (see my crusade for him last season against a stubborn Bucksketball staff that continually downgraded him), and John Henson (who still might be on the end of the bench if not for a multitude of absences from our other big men). I think I’ve been pretty on target about Kendall Marshall, too.

      It’s probably at least some luck, it might be mostly luck, but sometimes us quirky cranks are able to see things that more normal and respectable people miss.

      More importantly, I’ve just wanted to give those guys a chance to play real minutes, to have a true opportunity. I’ve had impressions and intuitions and maybe insights, but I haven’t really known that these guys were going to be as good as they’ve been, and I realize that there’s still a long way to go for each of them. What’s really frustrating is when they’re not even given a fair shot on the court, a chance to work through the inevitable ups and downs of being a young player in the NBA.

      Finally, I think a sports forum like Bucksketball is a good place to share strong opinions, in a respectful and friendly way, but passionately. I think it is a place where us amateur observers of the Bucks can share ideas freely and boldly even if we’re not really all that sure about whether we’re right or wrong — because it’s all in good fun and for a common cause, the good of the Milwaukee Bucks. I think it’s okay to blow off a little steam, to be a bit of a blowhard, because this is, after all, sports, and it’s okay to be a little nutty and over the top as a sports fan.

      Maybe I’m wrong about this, and maybe I’m too over the top, but I’ve been a huge fan of the Bucks since the days of Jon McGlocklin, and then Sidney Moncrief, and up until today. I’m sincere.

      As good as Bucksketball is — and I think it’s very good — it seems to me that it would be even better if the staff and the fans were a little more outspoken with their opinions, and a little more daring in saying what they really think even if it turns out to be mistaken. I think that this should be a more feisty place, but all in good fun and camaraderie. I might be wrong about my understanding of a blog such as this, but in any case, I wish and pray everyone well here at Bucksketball.

      • I’ve always contended that Middleton is a very good role player and this season he’s been a very good role player. Unsure how that’s been downgrading him.

        I’m not sure what you’re right about with Harris, eitehr. Since January 1, Tobias Harris has averaged 14.9 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 43% from the field and 32% from three. He’s on his way to another slightly above average season and likely a paycheck that’s going to be based on his potential, which is fairly unclear at this point, as he’s had virtually the same season three years in a row and doesn’t show much upside as a rebounder or passer. He’s shown a little more as a 3-point shooter this season though, which could be a big thing for him. He’s 22, so there certainly is time for him to improve, but suddenly he’s going to have a lot of money and production will start to take precedence over potential.

        If I have the option of building around Giannis and Jabari Parker or GIannis and Tobias or Tobias and X, I’ll take option one.

        Your larger point, that Milwaukee needs to continue to find ways to improve developing younger players, is sound. Though again, I’d point out that Middleton seems to be developing just fine and Knight has improved in both of his seasons in Milwaukee and Giannis is getting better and better all the time. Additionally, it seemed like Marshall had firmly entrenched himself in the rotation by the time he was injured. Aside from more minutes from John Henson, I struggle to grasp what you really want Milwaukee to be doing. At this point, who isn’t getting a fair shot?

        But we could be investing more time here at Bucksketball in profiling players other than Giannis. That charge is more than fair and has been taken to heart.

        • Henson has played alright but he’s having a tough time rebounding. Among players with over 600 mp John Henson ranks 63rd in TRB%(tied with 6’8″ Anthony Bennett) and 87th in DRB%, slightly behind Rajon Rondo. I know some of the DRB issues are by design, Kidd wants to have Giannis, Middleton, Knight etc. get the rebound to start the break, but wehn we continually get killed on the glass every night(and no it’s not just Henson’s fault but he’s part of the problem)it has to be an issue.

          As for Tobias Harris the Bucks felt he was a 4 and wasn’t effective enough as a 3, they had Ilyasova at PF and drafted Henson with the intent to play him there. Bad trade but really who cares anymore,

        • I think it’s important to start off by saying that I could very well be wrong about a lot of things.

          Secondly, I really appreciate the dialogue with you, and John Proctor, and rowe, and others. I don’t expect responses to everything I write, but it’s nice to have an occasional back-and-forth. I realize that I can hit a point fairly hard, repeating myself, although there’s almost always a reason, at least to my mind, why I think that something needs to be brought up again.

          As for Tobias, it’s important to note that he appears to have been hampered of late by an ankle injury that kept him out for awhile, and perhaps another leg injury he suffered against the Bucks. Plus, his team has been in a tailspin, and just fired it’s coach. I don’t pay careful attention to the Magic, so I don’t know what’s going on there all that well.

          Before the ankle injury, for the first two months of the season, Tobias was averaging something like 17 points and 6 rebounds, and shooting better than 45 percent. As far as age, he could be a college senior. What I’ve always liked about him is that he can score off the dribble, pulling up for a jumper, or driving to the rim. Plus, he’s supremely unselfish; Tobias and Khris Middleton seem to be two of the most unselfish players I’ve ever noticed in the NBA. They both also seem really coachable, and to have a lot of court smarts.

          Speaking of Khris, to me at least, he’s showing real signs of becoming much more than a role player, perhaps even a star, with an improvement from last season that is striking in its impressiveness. He may be well on his way to developing an outstanding all-around game in only his second full season in the Association.

          As I wrote, only time will tell about all of these guys. My main thing is to give these guys a real showing on the court, to stick with them for 24 minutes or so per game on a consistent basis even with the ups and downs of youth.

          As I think even you wrote, Jeremy (although with different wording), John Henson didn’t get major minutes until injuries and a suspension meant that there was hardly anyone left to keep him at the end of the bench any longer; until lately, it was rare for him to get as many as 20 minutes per game. Kendall was starting to get more time on the court, but he was still behind O.J. and Jerryd and Jared; I never got the sense that coach Kidd was really making a commitment to Kendall, really backing him in a solid way.

          So those are at least some of my thoughts. I’ll just add that the statistics are great, but to me they’re only part of the story, and I’m guessing you agree with me on this, Jeremy. Again, I’m a big fan of Bucksketball, and I very much enjoy getting the thoughts of others, agree or disagree.

          • Swisch, I think we’ve seen things with a fairly similar perspective over the years; especially, in regards to T.Harris, K.Middleton, and J.Henson. However, the topic that I know we’ve been at near polar opposites on has been Brandon Knight’s role as the team’s floor general and in-turn its primary point guard.

          • L, what perhaps we can agree on regarding Brandon is that he’s a winner, and a keeper. In other words, I hope the Bucks go out of their way to sign this guy to a nice contract.

            It’s just that you see him as a point guard, whereas I see him as a shooting guard. I think he can possibly be an all-star at the two, as I see him as much better off the ball, where he’ll still get plenty of chances to handle the ball, and pass to teammates, as well as scoring.

            There may not be a complete separation between the two guard positions in the NBA these days, but I think there’s still an important distinction. Some guys like Kendall seem to have more of a knack for directing things on the court and keeping the ball moving. For lack of such a player at this time, the Bucks struggle on offense at times, especially when defenses stiffen in the final minutes of a game.

  3. Keep doing you Swisch, I love reading your commentary and you certainly keep the comment section lively. Just maybe relax a little, try not to worry about grades, they’re fun to look at but don’t really mean anything. Or don’t, I enjoy the conversation, lol.