|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 41 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 16 PTS | -11 +/-
Depending on which half of Giannis’ stat line you look at, this game was either great or terrible. On one hand, his offensive output continued to improve from a post-All-Star Break swoon and he appears to have made progress on the jumpers that we’ve all been waiting for him to develop while also maintaining solid rebounding and defense. That was exemplified in one fast break opportunity where he laid out on the floor to corral a turnover and shuffle it ahead, igniting an impressive Ilyasova-MCW-Middleton fast break in the third quarter
But on the other end, you see the five turnovers and five fouls. Some of those numbers can be attributed to his still-emerging feel for the NBA game, but the recent uptick in those negative statistics should maybe be addressed before they become habitual.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 25 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +1 +/-
As slow as he started the previous game in Denver, Zaza came out with a flourish in this game, completing the first quarter on pace for a triple-double with 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. While he didn’t maintain the passing numbers throughout the game, Pachulia finished the first half with a double-double and more than held his own against former Buck Andrew Bogut.
|Michael Carter-Williams, PG 30 MIN | 5-14 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 16 PTS | +4 +/-
The swings in Carter-Williams’ game throughout the night were harsh. He started early on with an attempted post-up and no-call that led to his earning a technical foul along with some displays of frustration. That frustration also seemed to manifest at several points when he decided to put his head down and drive through a forest of defenders, results be damned. MCW managed to draw several fouls that way and converted some tough shots, but his shot selection and decision making still make for some concern and he seems to really enjoy taking a midrange jumper that he’s not yet skilled in.
There are really two possible paths here–MCW can either work to improve his jumper into a reasonable threat (likely in the offseason) or work to improve his shot selection and awareness of his teammates for assist opportunities. As he becomes more familiar with his new team, the latter can be expected to improve on its own; as for the former, we can only hope.
|Jared Dudley, SG 30 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -5 +/-
It’s clear that something still isn’t right with Dudley, as he’s now gone three entire games without making a three-point shot. While most of his value is derived from that shooting, his propensity not to force things and the team’s desire to run with small lineups still meant that he spent a lot of time on the court, providing very little impact.
|Khris Middleton, SG 30 MIN | 5-9 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -4 +/-
As per usual with Middleton, he quietly led the team with 11 points at the half and maintained an efficient shooting night despite not connecting on a three-point shot in the contest. Some nights he can step up and be the floor-spacing weapon that this team desperately needs, but that didn’t exactly work out tonight.
Perhaps more than anyone else on the team, Middleton relies on his teammates to set him up with good looks, particularly from distance–per NBA.com/stats, 71 of his 72 made three-pointers this year have been assisted by teammates. If the passes aren’t hitting in the right spots, he’s not necessarily going to be creating his own shots. The sloppiness of the team’s passing tonight was one example.
|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -9 +/-
For a while, I thought that the return to the bench would bring back out-of-sync Ersan, the one that wasn’t pulling down double-doubles nightly. However, some late run at the center position helped him pull down some more rebounds toward the end of the game. As the only Buck to make more than one three, his contributions might have been more valuable than a clearly impaired Dudley’s in the starting lineup.
|John Henson, C 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | -4 +/-
Pachulia’s success in the early going and the decision to close the game with a small lineup took their toll on Henson’s (and the team’s two other bigs’) minutes. At least this time his absence was explainable?
|Tyler Ennis, PG 15 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -15 +/–
Ennis was a steadying force and key component of the team’s second quarter run and looked comfortable running through the offense, even if he wasn’t necessarily a part of the big passing machine. Then the second half came around and he wasn’t quite so steady or sure of his decision-making. He was also responsible for Curry when the latter’s three consecutive three-point shots burst the game open in the fourth quarter.
While you almost always accept that a force of nature like Steph Curry is going to get his, Ennis managed to lose his assignment on the two possessions that led to Curry’s second two triples. While most of the team played solid defense in this game, Ennis still seemed like he needs work. So it’s a good thing that as a rookie he should have room to improve.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 9 PTS | -2 +/-
It’s evident that Bayless has taken on more of a scoring mentality as he plays in tandem with another point guard. His scoring sparked runs in the second and third quarters where the Bucks clawed their way back into the game and took the lead for a while. Otherwise, his four turnovers corresponded with the issues that the team’s other ballhandlers had in this game.
|Johnny O’Bryant III, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-
|Miles Plumlee, C DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-
|O.J. Mayo, SG DNP RIGHT HAMSTRING MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-
Nursing a hamstring.
Whatever adjustments he made to address the Warriors’ early three-point barrage payed off for a while as the Bucks fought their way back into the game and made it competitive into the fourth quarter. It’s hard to properly evaluate a game plan against one of the best teams in the league, but his willingness to go with modified lineups (including a small one to match Golden State’s efforts in the fourth) produced some positive results. One big test will be to see if the team maintains the level of energy it brought into this game as they return home after a long road trip.
Three Things We Saw
- The Bucks gave up 102 points, but against a Golden State team that averages 110 per game, that’s basically a win.
- The Warriors’ three-point barrage was simply too much to keep up with throughout the game. If it wasn’t Steph Curry, it was Klay Thompson; if it wasn’t Klay Thompson, it was Draymond Green; if it wasn’t Draymond Green, it was Andre Iguadala; and if it wasn’t any of those, Shaun Livingston was probably driving into the lane for a dunk.Golden State ended up making 14 three-point shots, the same number that Milwaukee attempted. They also had 30 assists on 37 made shots, which really underscored the passing ability on that team.
- Alas, the debate regarding which center should close out games will have to be put on hold for another day. Instead of riding with Pachulia, Henson, OR Plumlee, Kidd elected to match Golden State’s preferred small lineups with one of his own featuring Antetokounmpo and Ilyasova as the team’s two bigs for the majority of the fourth quarter. While that lineup didn’t necessarily gain any ground on a Warriors team that woke up enough to close out the game, the move did show an interesting look that could be worth revisiting for the team going forward.