Foul Play: Pacers 109 – Bucks 103

Milwaukee Bucks 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Indiana Pacers
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 35 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | +13 +/-

For the most part, Ilyasova was really good again on the offensive end. With Mayo missing his fifth out of six games and Bayless out, Ersan has provided some much-needed floor spacing. He posted his second double-double of the month, and he’s shooting better than 50% from the floor in March. Ilyasova also drew all five of David West’s personal fouls on the night and took two charges. Impressive stuff.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 35 MIN | 4-14 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +7 +/-

Giannis had four boards and two assists in the first quarter but was relatively quiet until a stretch in the fourth quarter when he drew and-one’s on two straight possessions. Aggressiveness wasn’t an issue, but he had trouble getting all the way to the rim, which resulted in some extremely difficult shot attempts, even by his standards. Giannis also had trouble – and this has been an issue all season – controlling the ball in the paint and was stripped on at least one occasion on a drive to the hole. Obviously, three-point shooting isn’t a strength of his, but he passed up on a WIDE open corner three on one of the final overtime possessions, and the Bucks were subsequently unable to get a good look. Even if the percentages say Giannis probably wouldn’t have made the shot, sometimes it’s best to roll the dice rather than have to force a difficult attempt with the shot clock winding down.

Zaza Pachulia, C 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +4 +/-

To Pachulia’s credit, he battled hard for the duration of his 34 minutes in what was probably the Bucks’ most physical game of the season (60 total fouls). He kept several possessions alive with offensive rebounds (8) and finished a few tough looks in the lane.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 40 MIN | 8-20 FG | 12-15 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 28 PTS | -2 +/-

He might have received a bit of help from the referees, but Carter-Williams was consistently aggressive and got to the line a season-high 15 times. As far as commanding the offense in the halfcourt goes, he still has plenty of room to grow, though he seemed to develop some chemistry with Pachulia, who finished three of his assists at the rim. While Carter-Williams is actually shooting well from the mid-range since coming to Milwaukee, his misses Thursday weren’t pretty. He seems to miss long on jumpers more than most NBA players should.

Khris Middleton, SG 45 MIN | 6-21 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | -4 +/-

Considering the absolute tear Middleton has been on of late, he was due for a game like this. That’s not to say he necessarily played poorly — he just missed a lot of open looks, including what would have been the game-winner with less than five seconds left in regulation. One-on-one play continues to be an issue, and he forced a tough look with the Bucks down four late in the OT period. After getting a stop on the next defensive possession, Middleton forced a very tough pass upcourt to Pachulia, who couldn’t control it.

Chris Johnson, SF 24 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -9 +/-

Aside from a few defensive lapses, Johnson was solid in 24 minutes. He made a great hustle play in the first half, lungingĀ into the crowd to save a ball for what would result in a Carter-Williams and-one on the other end. It was the kind of play you’d expect from a 10-day guy. Twenty-four minutes in a fairly important game was maybe a bit much, but credit goes to the Bucks for giving their 10-day players a legitimate chance at the next level. And with Bayless/Mayo out, it wasn’t like he was really stealing minutes.

Miles Plumlee, C 7 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1 +/-

Checked in eight minutes in the first quarter and made a nice block on a reverse layup attempt by Luis Scola. He finished a long alley-oop layup from Tyler Ennis for his only basket.

John Henson, C 12 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -7 +/-

Henson picked up three fouls and a technical in the second quarter alone and had very little impact on the game. Probably his least-impactful game since Golden State last Wednesday.

Tyler Ennis, PG 15 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -10 +/-

The biggest takeaway for me was that Ennis finally looked comfortable controlling the offense. He delivered a pinpoint pass to Miles Plumlee for an alley-oop and hit a couple floaters in the lane, as well as a pull-up jumper in the fourth quarter to trim the Bucks’ deficit to one point.

Jared Dudley, SG 18 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -21 +/-

I don’t know what’s going on with Dudley, but it appears whatever knee issue he’s dealing with is severely limiting his effectiveness. He’s scored five points or fewer in seven straight games and hasn’t hit more than one three-pointer in a game in over a month. No one is asking Dudley to carry this team offensively, but Milwaukee’s halfcourt spacing has noticeably suffered during his slump.

Four Things We Saw

  1. Zaza almost went coast-to-coast for a layup in the first quarter but was fouled as he went up.
  2. After Middleton’s errant pass late in overtime, Sidney Moncrief remarked on the Fox Sports Wisconsin telecast: “Even a *good* player wouldn’t have seen that coming.” Sid’s the best.
  3. Johnny O’Bryant has now been a DNP-CD in five straight games and has played six total minutes in the last 10 games. He’s officially out of the rotation.
  4. The Bucks’ halfcourt offense is painful, but their end-of-shot-clock offense is even worse. We knew this would be an issue without Brandon Knight, but Milwaukee usually looks totally lost in these situations. On Wednesday, Middleton handled the ball on the final two possessions. Even though the Bucks were able to get a game-icing basket with less than 20 seconds left, Middleton struggled to create and the shot was more a product of Pachulia’s quick-thinking after Middleton desperately dumped the ball off late in the shot clock. Middleton is the Bucks’ best shooter, but he’s not their best creator. Conversely, Carter-Williams is probably the best creator, but he can’t shoot. And then there’s Giannis, who’s a bit of a wild card in these situations. It will be interesting to see how Kidd delegates ball-handling duties in late-clock situations down the stretch.

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10 Comments

  1. Unrelated to the game tonight, but Jared Dudley is an A+ shooter on threes in NBA 2K15, even though rosters and ratings update weekly. Very interesting…even Curry is an A

    Anyways, Indy seems to have our number and they could really scare someone (Atlanta) if the PG13 comeback happens

  2. C’mon, guys and gals, let’s get some comments going here, or else I’m liable to start droning on about John Henson, or Ish Smith, or Tobias Harris, or Kendall Marshall, or Scott Suggs….

    I’m pretty sure that the guys at Bucksketball get something like $10,000 from ESPN for every fan comment — or maybe it’s coupons for burritos at the games — so I like to throw some business their way with my many opinions and observations and oddities. However, the best way to dilute the prevalence and preponderance of my provocations and prognostications is to have a lot of other people put in their two cents, or $10,000, or whatever you can contribute to the ongoing discussion.

    Maybe Jeremy or one of his associates at Bucksketball, flush with cash from the deluge of comments coming their way, will buy you a burrito at a future Bucks game. Or you can just settle for this old-timer filling space at Bucksketball with his ramblings and recollections and repetitions and ramblings and recollections….

    • Your comments are kind of like part of the article now, though. I read an article that you hadn’t commented on yet the other day, and it left me feeling empty. There’s definitely been an uptick in commenting compared to a couple months ago, wouldn’t you say?

      • Thanks for the encouragement, Chris, which is much appreciated.

        It does seem like there have been a lot more comments of late from a lot more people, which I consider to be a really good thing (although we could use a few more from Patti #1 if she feels inclined to do so).

        I think the quality of the comments has been really high, as well; that is, people have a lot of good things to say, and the conversation has been enriched accordingly. I hope other fans feel confident about contributing their thoughts if they want, because the fans who have been commenting here are good about not claiming to be perfect about analyzing the Bucks, or to have all the answers. It’s okay to be wrong — and most of this stuff is open to debate, anyway.

        Bucksketball does a great job of setting up fan comments, and we can take it from there. Fan power! More than that, even recognizing that the internet is a limited medium, there can be genuine fan camaraderie.

  3. I think most peopke just wait for you to make your comment Swisch and then we all chime in or whine about how you talk about Henson…also is everyone comfortable with Middleton isolations…its frustrating me that all the #ownthefuture pieces(MCW, GIANNIS, HENSON) cant hit a jumper or shoot wide open threes…i said it in my last comment but at the Magic game u cld hear the frustration of fans when Giannis passes up on one

    • TheLastoftheBucksFans

      That’s going to be an ongoing issue with his severe lack of confidence. Also on Giannis…when I see those drives where he just runs full speed into the paint and ends up stopping because the opponents saw it coming plain as day, I wonder if he really can be a star. There’s a lot of time to grow, but I just worry his ceiling my be lower than many thought. The lack of floor spacing certainly doesn’t help him though.

  4. Most importantly, Nobel, it’s really cool you took your son to his first Bucks game the other night. Plus, it’s a good sign that you’re bringing him up in the right way!

    I haven’t noticed Middleton overdoing it with the isolations. As I remember it, the tough shot by Middleton late in OT that Nick references above was fully justified because of how far behind the Bucks were with so little time. At the end of regulation, Khris maneuvered with the dribble for a good shot attempt to win the game, but it was just a little long.

    I do agree that Khris has a ways to go with his one-on-one game, but then again, he seems to have already shown nice progress there already in his time with the Bucks. I would say that he should limit his isolations, but not eliminate them — picking his spots.

    One thing about Khris that I really like is that he is highly unselfish. Even when he scored 30 against the Magic, it seemed to be all in the flow of the game, almost casual.

    With Brandon gone, and with O.J., Jerryd ,and Jared out or seemingly hindered by injuries, Khris has been basically forced into a more prominent role in the offense — and as you saw in person against the Magic, that’s been mostly a good thing. Actually, Khris seems to have been shooting respectably against the Pacers (I tuned in at the beginning of the fourth quarter) until his minutes approached the 40-minute mark on the way to a total of 45. That’s a lot of time for the second game of a back-to-back, and it’s not surprising it would affect his shooting.

    As far as MCW and Giannis, from what I’ve seen, I would hope that the former shoots less from the outside, and the latter shoots more. Giannis should still limit his outside shooting, yet he should be shooting from the outside more often, IMO, especially when he is open and facing the basket. Also, he might want to shoot more 10-15 footers off the dribble, perhaps floaters, when he can’t get all the way to the hoop, instead of ramming into defenders.

    I think to be a good point guard, MCW actually has to pass up some outside shots early in the clock even if he’s fairly open, and even if he’s hitting those outside shots. It’s a delicate balance, but MCW’s primary objective needs to be to get his teammates involved in the offense.

    It may be that MCW has to cut down on his dribbling and increase his passing. I really miss Kendall’s ability to get the ball whistling around the court, and hope our current point guards might watch him on film for emulation.

    In general, I’m having a tough time figuring out MCW. I don’t know how a player can look so awesomely talented and effective at times, but also so exasperatingly careless and clueless. It seems like he might have all the tools to be a great point, even good shooting form, but I hope he also has the mental discipline and the pass-first attitude to make his teammates better. I’m still optimistic about MCW, that is when I’m not apoplectic about his errors.

    Finally, I really appreciate Nick at Bucksketball getting this recap out so soon after the game against the Pacers, and for the good job he does with his appraisals, regardless of whether I agree or not. He’s a very good addition to a very good team of writers at Bucksketball.

  5. I don’t think this year matters. I will care next year when the Bucks are healthy and will win 55 games. Whatever they do this year is a bonus.

    • I get the feeling that Kidd has adopted that mentality as well at times. For how well he seemed to have his finger on this team in the first half of the season (perfectly timed time-outs, subbing for match-ups, scheming with the guards during free throws etc) he’s sat in his chair an awful lot lately. I would think the opposite would occur with a new PG.