|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 29 MIN | 7-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | 0 +/-
He helped Milwaukee keep pace early with 11 first quarter points and then hit a couple of shots down the stretch that were crucial. After pump-faking Michael Beasley, he stepped in and shot a fadeaway jumper where he made a lot of contact with Beasley, but didn’t get the call. Fortunately for the Bucks, the very difficult attempt fell in, leaving the team down four points with 3:17 to play. He came up big a few times in similar ways late.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 39 MIN | 6-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 6 TO | 16 PTS | +8 +/-
This seemed to be a fairly quiet game for Giannis. He didn’t have any big time highlights, but he made a few jumpers outside of the paint and took advantage of mismatches and passes inside the paint whenever he had the opportunity. Everything seems to be coming more and more naturally to him, though I bet most Bucks fans would like to see even more aggression, especially when the Bucks are struggling to get points as badly as they were in the third quarter.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 33 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 11 REB | 7 AST | 5 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +18 +/-
It worked out in the favor of Pachulia that Miami center Hassan Whiteside went out in the first half with a hand injury. Miami’s backup centers, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen lacked the same sort of agility that seems to really hamper Zaza, so he was able to make a difference on the offensive glass with five boards. His biggest impact obviously came as he scrambled for that last board and last assist leading to Middleton’s shot.
|Michael Carter-Williams, PG 26 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 4 PTS | +6 +/-
Is he good? Are we sure he’s good? I’m not sure he’s good. He had both more fouls and more turnovers than assists or points.
|Khris Middleton, SG 39 MIN | 5-17 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | 0 +/-
He hit a game winning shot, moments after a crucial turnover that almost dashed Milwaukee’s hopes. The two plays illustrated his current strengths well. He drove into the paint, trying to create a good look with 47 seconds to play when he saw Zaza open under the hoop. He rifled a pass that went straight out of bounds without Zaza getting a hand on it. Right idea, poor execution. His catch and shoot three to win the game? Despite having made only 1-7 threes leading into that shot, he took it with all the confidence in the world. He knows he just has to keep shooting and eventually they’ll go in.
|Miles Plumlee, C 16 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +2 +/-
He had two or three dunks in which he capitalized on being in the right place at the right time. That seems to be what Jason Kidd is looking for out of his big men though, so that’s a successful strategy for Plumlee to employ. If he can continue to find himself around the rim, he’ll probably end up with more and more open dunks, as the Bucks have played unselfishly all season long.
|John Henson, C 12 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -16 +/-
As unnoticeable as he’s been in a long time.
|Tyler Ennis, PG 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -6 +/-
I know he is not good. But he is young, so there’s a chance he might be good at some point. The only thing he did in this game was throw a bad pass that was immediately stolen and taken the other way for a layup.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 37 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | 0 +/-
A positive thing that can be said for Bayless is that he plays with great effort at all times. It was that effort that led to the tie up of Michael Beasley and led to Milwaukee gaining that last possession after Bayless’ jump ball victory. A negative thing that can be said about Bayless is that he doesn’t shoot the ball very well anymore and is often the centerpiece of Milwaukee’s scoring efforts off the bench.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 6 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -7 +/-
He made a surprise second half appearance after being a game time decision. Most people expected he wouldn’t play after sitting out the first half, but things got so bad for Milwaukee for a while in the second half that Kidd went to Mayo in an apparent effort to jump start the team. He had one nice assist to a streaking Miles Plumlee and missed all of his shots, but none of his shot attempts was gratuitous.
Three Things We Saw
- It was truly exciting to see Middleton’s shot go in at the buzzer, but I’m uncertain it’s going to alter this team’s immediate future. MCW seems like a mess. Few people on this team can make a 3-point shot right now and the turnovers never stop. Again the Bucks had 20 turnovers.
- More impressive than Middleton’s shot was Milwaukee’s defense in the fourth quarter, which seemed to be the sort of thing the Bucks can actually build on. If they can figure out what they did so well in the fourth quarter to limit the Heat’s chances, then the Bucks might have something. It seemed to be as simple as everyone playing with a bit more focus and energy – players were rotating and covering for each other very aggressively and in general Milwaukee seemed to be a step ahead of Miami’s offense. But maybe there was more to it. Maybe something happened that Kidd can get the team to channel going forward. Milwaukee’s offense doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a strength any time soon, so the Bucks have to figure out a way to play virtually the best defense in the league the rest of the season if they hope to both make the playoffs and play compelling basketball in late April.
- I ate dipping dots at this game for the first time in years. The cup I ate them out of did not say that they were the “ice cream of the future” as I remember dipping dots cups used to say. Is that no longer the motto? Are we in the future now, so there’s no longer a need to proclaim that they are for tomorrow if tomorrow has arrived? Whatever the case with their branding, I found them to be as delightful as I remembered and I’d highly suggest you indulge if you’re looking for something sweet at your next Bucks game.