|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 29 MIN | 4-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -17 +/-
Ersan just finished up his best – and healthiest – month of the season, but he wasn’t great Monday, going 4-of-13 from the field after a 1-of-10 dud Saturday. Three of his field goals came during a key stretch in the third quarter, however, when Atlanta was threatening to pull away for good. Of course, that’s eventually what happened, but Ersan’s stretch of eight straight points for Milwaukee helped cut an 11-point Hawks lead to just five in less than two minutes. Despite the pair of poor shooting nights to end the month, Ilyasova averaged nearly 16 points and seven rebounds per game in March while shooting almost 49 percent from the floor and 45 percent from three. With Jared Dudley’s status somewhat up in the air and O.J Mayo struggling to find his shot, Ersan’s ability to stretch the floor will be key over the final eight games.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 38 MIN | 7-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -15 +/-
Giannis was quiet for much of the game until Kidd put the ball in his hands midway through the fourth quarter. With Bayless on the floor as the de facto point guard, Giannis seemed to be the one handling playmaking duties in the halfcourt, which led to eight fourth-quarter points and a couple of trips to the free throw line. He drilled a catch-and-shoot baseline 20-footer without hesitation, then connected on all four foul shots following drives to the hoop on back-to-back possessions a few minutes later. His fourth-quarter scoring was capped by a smooth Eurostep lay-in while defended by Kyle Korver. It was one of those “that looked so easy it had to be a travel” plays that he provides about once per game. Giannis has now scored in double-figures in 12 straight games, which ties the longest streak of his career, set earlier this season.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 36 MIN | 8-10 FG | 1-3 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | -5 +/-
Pachulia was not short on energy facing off against his former team, and he led the Bucks with 12 points at the half. He finished with his seventh double-double in his last 14 games after posting only seven in his previous 50 contests. Of course, Pachulia is averaging more minutes in March (26.2) than any other month, but that 26.2 number isn’t too far off from his season average of 23.5.
|Michael Carter-Williams, PG 21 MIN | 1-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 4 PTS | -12 +/-
While most of the Bucks’ starters have seen increased minutes of late, Carter-Williams played fewer than 30 minutes for the fourth straight game. He closed out a horrific month, statistically, with maybe his least impactful game as a Buck. Five assists in 21 minutes is encouraging, but four turnover are not, and that second number is probably why Jerryd Bayless played 31 minutes Monday. I’m not nearly ready to declare Carter-Williams the scapegoat for Milwaukee’s struggles, but he finishes March shooting 37 percent with only two games of 50 percent shooting or better.
|Khris Middleton, SG 36 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +1 +/-
It’s no secret that the Hawks rotate extremely well defensively. That limited Milwaukee’s open looks, and Middleton was unable to ever really find a groove. He’s now 0-of-8 from three over the last two games, and if he doesn’t have his outside shot going, he’s considerably less effective. Groundbreaking analysis, I know. The Bucks have lost the last six games when Middleton does not hit a three.
|Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 12 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +4 +/-
We talked about this on the latest Bucksketball podcast – which you should listen to, by the way – but is it possible Jason Kidd used Johnny O’Bryant as a threat? C.F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel reported that Kidd was not pleased with Milwaukee’s effort Monday, and O’Bryant played 12 minutes, after three straight DNP-CDs, in a game that wasn’t truly decided until late in the fourth quarter. I’m joking, of course, but playing O’Bryant over the likes of Miles Plumlee and John Henson is one way to send a message. To his credit, O’Bryant actually played pretty well. He didn’t find his way to a rebound, but he posted his highest point total in two months and converted a somewhat-impressive swooping-hook-plus-the-foul late in the fourth.
|Miles Plumlee, C 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4 +/-
Three minutes. No statistics. One foul. Plumlee was good against the Heat last week but he’s played only eight total minutes in three games since.
|John Henson, C 18 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -4 +/-
Henson continues to have his minutes kept in the 16-20 range seemingly regardless of how well or poorly he’s playing. After eight points, 10 rebounds and four blocks against Golden State, he followed up with a quiet two-point, four-rebound showing. The 1-of-6 shooting line isn’t quiet as bad as it looks, though, as three of his misses came within two seconds of each other while attempting a trio of contested layup/tip-ins midway through the third.
|Tyler Ennis, PG 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -2 +/-
Even with Carter-Williams limited to 21 minutes, Ennis only found his way onto the court for a couple minutes to begin the second quarter as well as the final 1:22 of the game. It’s hard to make much of an impact in that time.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 31 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -5 +/-
The first thing about Bayless in my game notes reads: “Bayless airballed his first jumper (baseline). Yikes.” That is a true statement, but Bayless’ night got better, as he ended up seeing the bulk of the point guard minutes. He hit a key three-pointer in the second quarter when the drought-prone Bucks were in desperate need of a spark, and he followed up with an assist on the ensuing possession. The next trip down the floor, he hit another long jumper to cut the Atlanta lead to single-digits.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 13 MIN | 0-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -6 +/-
Mayo hasn’t really been himself since returning from a hamstring injury. He’s just 3-of-20 from the field over the last four games, a slump he’s bound to bust out of at some point. Milwaukee could certainly use his outside shooting.
Four Things We Saw
- There were a bunch of airballs in this game by both teams. A suspicious amount of airballs. Like, way more airballs than you see in a typical NBA game. I don’t have an exact number, but I would estimate the teams combined for somewhere between five and eight, many of them on wide open looks.
- The fans in Atlanta, long known for their undying support of the Hawks through thick and thin, were apparently showering Giannis with “overrated” chants. Interesting choice.
- Milwaukee weathered a few Atlanta runs throughout the night, but one run, in particular, sent the message that the Bucks weren’t walking away with a win. Midway through the third quarter, Mike Budenholzer called a timeout after Milwaukee trimmed the deficit to five points. Out of the timeout, Kyle Korver hit a three-pointer. Then he hit a long two. Then another three. Then another three. In a span of one minute and five seconds, the lead was up to 16 points and Jason Kidd was calling timeout.
- All four of the consecutive Korver baskets in the third quarter were assisted, and nine of the Hawks 10 field goals in the period resulted in an assist.