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.
|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.
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.