An L in the ATL: Hawks 101 – Bucks 88

Milwaukee Bucks 88 FinalRecap | Box Score 101 Atlanta Hawks
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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  1. Sleepless in Boise, and maybe not in the best frame of mind for writing comments, but my enthusiasm for this version of the Bucks is waning game by game.

    If Jason Kidd is sending a message to John Henson and Miles Plumlee, perhaps it’s that he has little or no use for them, and they should just plan on leaving — and I wouldn’t blame them at all for taking that message to heart.

    The Bucks seem to be reverting to old form as far as playing older guys, and as far as being mediocre at best.

    Kidd came to the Bucks apparently after showing little to no loyalty to his former team, and little ethics as far as honoring a contract. Please, anyone, correct me if I’m wrong. That kind of beginning with the Bucks, with the collaboration of our new owners, doesn’t make me all that hopeful about the future of the team being managed all that well.

    • To be fair regarding Kidd, his higher ups tried to have him fired before supposedly made his power play to get out of town in Brooklyn. Ethics don’t really exist in front offices.

      Otherwise, I agree with your post. I know it was the Hawks, but this was probably the most depressing game for me since the trade. The team didn’t play well save a little run here or there, and MCW was especially ineffective. Most games, I at least see him trying to make things happen and the turnovers occur from teammates dropping passes or just trying to thread the needle. Tonight it was simply poor ball handling and ball security, reminding me of the one thing I hated about Knight.

      Hopefully it was just his grandfather’s death on his mind or something, but let’s hope the benching might snap him out of his funk.

  2. so bad grades so bad , pachulia only B? and Bayless and Johnny O’Bryant III B + , its funny

  3. I really hope the bucks win 6 of their last 8 games to finish the regular season with a winning record – which I do not think is out of the question when looking at their schedule. I know that nobody expected Milwaukee to do this good, but after they were doing so well earlier this year I will still be somewhat disappointed in a .500 or under record despite the great bounce back from last years 15 win season.

  4. I must admit I’m shocked how bad MCW looks on most nights these days. His endless dribbling is probably the worst thing I see. Remember when the Bucks used to whip the ball around from side to side to get an open look?

    Carter Williams is in a slump obviously. But I’m more worried about WHAT he’s trying to do rather than how he’s doing them. Dribbling into crowds, running down the shot clock, looking too much for his own shots and his 3 point attempts look truly frightening. When he’s past 15 feet out his shot looks high school in form.

    Am I worried? Terrified is more like it.

    • Carter Williams is playing the way that Philly fans watched him play for a year and a half….pounding the ball on the dribble, turnover prone and a poor shooter. The exception for Carter-Williams is when he has a 25 point game and hits shots. The fact that Philly gave up on him when they are clearly in “Own the Future” mode like Milwaukee and that a significant majority of Sixer fans who commented on the MCW trade were glad to see him go….should have been warning signs to Bucks fans. MCW is simply not a quality starting PG in the NBA, and most nights, plays like he belongs in the D-league.