Road to the Playoffs: Bucks 110 – Celtics 101

Milwaukee Bucks 110 FinalRecap | Box Score 101 Boston Celtics
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 26 MIN | 8-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +7 +/-

Like most of the starters, Ersan had a quiet first half before stepping up his game in the third quarter, picking up where O.J. Mayo left off in the second. Surprisingly, most of his scoring output happened in the paint, as the only shots he missed were three-pointers.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 27 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +2 +/-

Foul trouble limited his ability to stay on the court in the second half, and after a quick start Giannis didn’t have a tremendous impact on the game. Still, we saw more encouraging signs of his comfort level with the NBA game, including one drive where he had the presence of mind to locate Dudley on the perimeter and feed him for a nice assist instead of throwing up a wild shot. His confidence in the jumper continues to grow as well, which only bodes better for his continued development.

Zaza Pachulia, C 30 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-6 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +13 +/-

Another all-around solid game from Pachulia, who showcased his passing ability in addition to a providing solid rebounding presence. His ball movement, especially in the fourth quarter, helped keep the offense moving just enough to withstand Boston’s last stand.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 35 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 5 STL | 2 BLK | 6 TO | 8 PTS | +12 +/-

Hitting only his third three-pointer since coming over to Milwaukee (of 21 attempts) was encouraging, even more so for its timing as it helped hold off Boston’s final run in the fourth quarter. He also stuffed the stat sheet, demonstrating the contributions he can make to the team even when he’s not a primary scorer.

Though he had a sloppy game in terms of turnovers, Carter-Williams’ willingness to find teammates and ability to generate steals were on display. I suspect full NBA offseason (his first was interrupted by shoulder surgery and rehab) and more time to get comfortable with his teammates will facilitate considerable improvements from MCW in the next year.

Khris Middleton, SG 34 MIN | 5-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +3 +/-

For most the first three quarters Khris seemed dramatically out of sync with his shot, going 2-7 and missing all four of his three-point attempts. But as has been the case in several recent games, he found his footing in the fourth quarter and chipped in enough to help keep Boston from regaining a lead.

After tearing through most of the season, Middleton has endured a mini-slump of late, going 5-23 from three-point range over his last five games. While it’s still a small sample size relative to his 40% season clip, his role in the team’s offense is big enough that any dip in production is concerning for a team that’s already struggled on that end.

Jared Dudley, SF 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -2 +/-

Signs of life from Dudley as he works his way back from injury are encouraging, as he made more than one three for the first time since going 5-for-5 against Brooklyn on February 7. His health in the stretch run and the playoffs could go a long way toward helping the Bucks regain their early-season form.

John Henson, C 17 MIN | 5-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +2 +/-

Together with Mayo, Henson came off of the bench late in the first quarter and into the second to boost the tempo and stabilize an otherwise rocky start. Once again, Mayo managed to find him with a sweet lob that Henson converted for an alley-oop early in the second quarter, which is a trend we’d all love to see continue.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 19 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -5 +/-

The spark plug off the bench seems to have stopped working so well as the season wears on. To Bayless’ credit, he’s not forcing shots, but he’s not playing a great role as a facilitator either.

O.J. Mayo, SG 29 MIN | 9-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | +13 +/-

The scoring was the most obvious part–and Mayo was definitely in a zone from the moment he came off the bench–but he also showed off the diversity in his game by consistently recognizing his ability to pull defenders to him and find open teammates. When he’s fully engaged and playing with confidence, you see the Mayo that the Bucks deemed worthy of $8 million a year; but maintaining that level of play has been his issue.

Jason Kidd

His moves to insert Henson and Mayo earlier than usual in the first quarter helped bring energy to an otherwise lackadaisical starting lineup and may have helped prevent a bigger deficit heading into halftime. While it’s not exactly hard to ride the hot hand (Mayo in the second quarter, Ilyasova in the third), Kidd did show willingness to run with the lineups that were working and wasn’t afraid to pull Antetokounmpo and Carter-Williams when their play wasn’t benefitting the team.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Had it not been for a number of inopportune turnovers and a strong Boston push in the fourth quarter, the Bucks could have won this game running away. As it was, aside from a few minor scares, the game didn’t spiral out of control as it might have earlier in the season. Progress!
  2. 31 assists on 45 made baskets spoke to how well the team moved the ball throughout the game. Though they don’t yet have one dominant scorer, the ability to put multiple ballhandlers and skilled passers on the floor at once will definitely help the Bucks keep pressure on their opponents defensively in the playoffs and as they find the hot hand on any given night.
  3. The Bucks’ magic number for the playoffs is two after clinching a tiebreaker over the Celtics. They remain 2.5 games ahead of Brooklyn for the sixth seed with six games to play.

Categories: Recaps

Tags: ,

Comments are closed