Coach’s decision: Cavs 104 – Bucks 99

Giannis Antetokounmpo did not play on Wednesday night. But he was breathing.

That’s about all Jason Kidd would say about Giannis after the game.

When a crowd of reporters led off Kidd’s post game press conference by asking about the absence of Giannis from the lineup, Kidd would only say it was a coach’s decision. Before the game, Kidd announced that Jared Dudley would take the place of Giannis in the lineup, but wouldn’t explain beyond that according to Charles F. Gardner:

Bucks coach Jason Kidd did not elaborate on the reason for the change when he was asked about it in his pregame comments.

“We’ll have Giannis come off the bench,” Kidd said. “We’re just making a change. Nothing, just making a change.”

After the game, three or four different reporters asked various questions about Giannis. Was he hurt? Was this a disciplinary thing? Was he late to practice? Beyond remarking once that he was still breathing, Kidd simply replied with variations of “coach’s decision.” Kidd wanted to move on and talk about the game and when he was asked about the game he talked about how he was proud of the way his guys played. He commented that reporters should be asking about those guys and not asking “stupid” questions about a guy who did not play.

It was a much more tense than the usual post game press conference. Giannis did not offer much more clarity when reporters reached him, so no one really knows exactly what’s going on. Was Giannis the one who leaked the Bucks logo? Did he say something about Jim Jackson being a great player within ear shot of Kidd? Was his smile too big lately? We’re in the dark for now. But these things usually come out. We’ll see what happens.

Both Kidd and Giannis seemed to indicate that he would play on Friday, but who knows at this point.

Anyway, the Bucks played basketball too.

Cleveland Cavaliers 104 Final
Recap | Box Score
99 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 19 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -12 +/-

He’s been so crucial to any success the Bucks have had lately that it was surprising Milwaukee was as competitive as they were without him contributing much. His one make was a strong catch and finish inside with a mismatch, but aside from that, he didn’t seem to get as many touches in spots he liked or as many opportunities for putbacks off offensive rebounds, where he really thrives.

Jared Dudley, SF 32 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -8 +/

In a surprise start, he played pretty well. Defensively he helped “contain” Lebron James about as well as the Bucks could have hoped. He didn’t get blown by and when double teams came – which was often – he wasn’t a weak link that Lebron exploited. More often than not the Bucks forced James into cross court passes. Offensively, Dudley hit half his shots and moved the ball. That’s about all they can ask of him.

Zaza Pachulia, C 31 MIN | 8-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 5 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +8 +/-

Kind of a quiet 19/10 for Zaza. He had his jumper going a bit, as half of his made field goals came from outside the paint.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 36 MIN | 13-22 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 30 PTS | -2 +/-

Attack mode all night. Only four of his 13 made shots came outside of the paint (one was even a three!). He took advantage of every opening he saw in Cleveland’s defense and had success finishing inside. He should be a good finisher, he’s a guy who can absorb some contact, but he’s struggled inside three feet for Milwaukee. He had made only 48% of his shots from in close since arriving after hitting better than 62% with Philly. He was probably due for a night like Wednesday night.

Khris Middleton, SG 37 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +8 +/-

With Giannis out, he was a de-facto wing creator at times and had some success attacking. His bread and butter is still the corner three, which sets up his pump-fakes and short jumpers. Both of those things were working on Wednesday, but MCW had it going so hard that there were a few less opportunities for Middleton.

Miles Plumlee, C 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | 0 +/-

Caught an alley-oop. Not much else.

John Henson, C 24 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +2 +/-

At one point he actually moved Tristan Thompson out of the way using his body and then finished with a soft hook and he had a move in the first quarter against the overmatched James Jones that ended up in an aggressive dunk. He certainly can feel out his opportunities. He and Zaza actually played together when the Bucks fell behind by 15 in the third quarter. He checked in and the Bucks went on a 10-0 run, sparked in part by some plays each of the two of them made.

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

Made a three! Not much else.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 21 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-3 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | -2 +/-

It’s been a while since Bayless had a truly impactful game and Wednesday night was not the end of that drought. There seems to be some difficulty working him and around MCW and Mayo and Ennis. Who gets the ball when two of those guys are in? What do the other guys do? None are that great at shooting threes, so who takes on that role? It seems like those are questions that still need answers.

O.J. Mayo, SG 26 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -16 +/-

Mayo seemed a bit more of an active shooter in this game than he has lately. He caught the ball in different situations, often not on the move or in a position to make plays. He’s best when he’s coming off screens and making decisions, but against the Cavs he was catching on the wing a lot and attacking, which had mixed results.

Jason Kidd
The Giannis thing was so weird. It’s hard not to give him the benefit of the doubt, as he’s the coach and all, but why did this all have to be so secretive? Why couldn’t he at least say it was an internal matter that they didn’t want to share with the public? So flippant. But he took a couple chances with the lineup and saw some progress, so that part is good. Milwaukee may have to chill out on all the aggressive double teams, as the Cavs exposed those with solid passing which led to open threes, which led to offensive rebounds, which led to costly points allowed in the fourth quarter.

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      • Based on ?At the 9:33 mark of the 3rd Q Henson entered for Ersan with the score 61-46 Cavs. He remained in the game until the 5:25 mark of the 4th with the score 92-86 Cavs. So 40-31 Bucks during that stretch of 16:08. Also chipped in with 6 pts, 2 offensive rebounds that led to 2nd chance baskets and a couple of assists during that stretch

    • I don’t know what this means – “again and again and again so bad grades”. Are you saying we do a bad job grading (fair) or that we’ve given too many bad grades (eh)?

  1. Overall the Bucks played well last night. Actually surprisingly well. But the last play that James hit brought back a fond (nightmare) memory.

    There’s James dribbling calmly at 25 feet and who’s facing him? Dudley. Journeyman, bad athlete Dudley. My god, how about Middleton or Carter Williams or even Henson to challenge James last shot? But no, Dudley.

    The memory? A few years back- Kobe Bryant 20 secs left 25 feet away. Who’s guarding him? Charlie Bell. A few seconds later ballgame Lakers.

    Ah, the memories.

    • rowe I was thinking the exact same thing. Dudley’s defense is hard to watch and he got lucky james didn’t light it up worse last night. He tries to put his hand in his opponents face rather than up high like most athletes do. At one game this year after being so fed up with him getting beat I even started the chant NO D DUDLEY! NO D DUDLEY! which actually got a lot of laughs from he people around me who actually joined in as well.

      • The hands in the face rather than up high thing is what MCW does as well, along with many of the best defenders in the NBA. Blocking their vision does more to disrupt them than putting a hand up where you’re not blocking their vision or blocking their shot.

        Dudley defended LeBron well on that last possession; forced him into the exact shot we want LeBron to take. He just happened to make it. LeBron is kinda good.

        • Couch Potato Scout

          Chu is right, Shane Battier and Bruce Bowen for known for putting their hand right at their opponents face and “coincidentally” they were known as some of the best defenders of their time.
          In addition, just from playing basketball I/you should know that it is nearly impossible to block someone’s jump shot if they are decent and not 4+inches shorter than you, it is much easier to block their vision, forcing them to shot a little bit blindly.
          However, I agree with Saul that I’m not sure why Dudley is guarding LeBron, because although Dudley is great on defense I feel he is way too unathletic to guard Lebron. I would’ve much rather seen Middleton guard him, but it doesn’t really matter. LeBron made an insane (and I think) lucky shot. I mean how many times to you see a guy make a fadeaway 3 pointer from 2-3 ft behind the arc.

          • Shane Batier and Bruce Bowen are also much better at defense than Dudley. You cannot seriously tell me he is a good defender.

  2. So much for getting a pass-first point in MCW.

    It’s hard for me to watch an entire Bucks game these days, partly because MCW seems so clueless about sharing the ball. I don’t think the Bucks can win with him shooting 20 times a game — that number should be more like 10.

    Anyway, it’s up to coach Kidd to rein in MCW and pull him if he doesn’t like the way he’s leading the team; so, ultimately, it’s Kidd’s responsibility if MCW is shot-happy on the court — and if the rest of the team is possibly less than happy with their lack of shot opportunities.

    • I’m fairly confident that Kidd didn’t bench Giannis for anything performance-related considering he’s been one of our best players.

      Anyways, seems like an odd time to ride MCW after he played as great as he did. And despite taking a lot of shots, he also moved the ball very well. Great all-around game from him.

      • I’d rather make the point about MCW shooting too much when he’s had a good game scoring, because even then I think he should be focusing more on facilitating. I mean, 22 shots! Yikes! By contrast, Khris had 10 shots.

        For the Bucks to succeed as a team, MCW’s main priority by far needs to be getting his teammates going, in my opinion. When guys are touching the ball, and getting a fair share of shots, the whole energy of the team is lifted. That’s the way MCW can win over his teammates, and help the Bucks become truly a winner.

        Anyway, Chu, I do like getting your take on our Syracuse guys, as well as other matters.

        • Couch Potato Scout

          Swisch, I like the point you are making especially now instead of beating up on him when he was in a slump. But I thought the Bucks just had to ride the hot hand, especially with Ersan and Mayo not providing any sort of scoring. Also, I think 8 assists vs 2 Turnovers is not a horrible stat line, especially for a guy who’s just going to improve from here. The one thing I do wish he would a bit more though, is drive and KICK instead of drive and just chuck up a shot.
          I think it is going to take some time for the Bucks to “unbrainwash” him from the 76ers losing ways. I think MCW is having a couple side-effects from having a team full of nobody’s that rely on him to score, either way improvement is improvement and we’ll just have to hope the Buck’s (with Giannis starting, hopefully) continue to get better.

  3. “He commented that reporters should be asking about those guys and not asking “stupid” questions about a guy who did not play.”

    This bothers the living hell out of me. They’re not stupid questions. Giannis is about the most sure-fire player we’ve got for the future, so of course we damn sure want to know why he needed to be held out of a game, particularly considering the shady circumstances of it all. Getting demoted and then removed entirely for the game?

    Overall I’ve been happy with Kidd this season. But I think events like this indicate just how much he still needs to grow up as a head coach. He’s not infallible, and I hope that Lasry and Edens are going to be as willing to reprimand him as they are to praise him.

  4. TheLastoftheBucksFans

    Good point about the hard double teams. It seems like the kind of defense we played under Larry Drew.

    If Giannis had the numbers Zaza posted he’d easily get an A+ from Jeremy.