Good teams are harder to beat than bad teams: Celtics 99 – Bucks 83

Boston Celtics 99 Final
Recap | Box Score
83 Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton, SF 37 MIN | 3-12 FG | 2-6 3FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -1 +/-

The slow start continues. After an okay game (4-6 shooting) against the Nets, Middleton couldn’t find his touch once again. Here’s a quick breakdown to illustrate his struggles:

Khris Middleton Shot Types (
This Season FGM FGA FG%
Catch and Shoot 2.4 5.5 43.2
Pullups 1.3 5.1 24.4
Last Season FGM FGA FG%
Catch and Shoot 1.9 4.3 43.5
Pullups 1.5 3.5 42.2

Pull-up shots are not going well for Middleton, and he’s taking about 1.5 more every game than he did last season. If these shooting percentages don’t improve by the end of November, then I’ll think about being alarmed. His past two years have been too strong for me to panic now.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 24 MIN | 6-13 FG | 1-3 3FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | -4 +/-

Foul trouble left Giannis on the bench for the majority of the first half. He was second in the league in fouls last season, and he leads the team in fouls through eight games this season. He’s such an active player and such an aggressive player that he’s bound to pick up a couple of fouls other players won’t each game, just because he’s everywhere. But he’s going to have to get better at limiting fouls if Milwaukee’s going to improve, because when he’s not on the court, Milwaukee often looks lost on both sides of the ball.

Jabari Parker, SF 24 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +23 +/-

This game may have been his best game back so far. He had a tip slam and another dunk where he looked bouncy. I know everyone was excited about that tough, spinning dunk he made the other night, but he looked way more athletic when he tip slammed on Tuesday night. His rebounding was crucial as well, as Milwaukee’s other power forward options struggled once again to keep anyone off the glass.

Greg Monroe, C 33 MIN | 7-11 FG | 0-0 3FG | 3-5 FT | 14 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +7 +/-

He started 5-5 in the first quarter and then the Celtics began to swarm him every time he got the ball. Milwaukee had trouble getting him any open looks and the guards were turning the ball over too frequently to help him create anything in the second half. But early on, when Milwaukee was able to rely on him, and he had only one defender to beat, the Bucks and Monroe both looked fantastic. He’s a great first option for this team; now they just need some secondary options. At one point, he was on the court with Inglis-Bayless-O’Bryant-Ennis and the Celtics triple teamed him successfully.

Tyler Ennis, PG 24 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +2 +/-

He’s a fantastic option when the Bucks don’t need their point guard to do anything. That’s not insulting. When Milwaukee’s offense looked great early, and Monroe/Giannis/Middleton/Parker had something going, it was great to have Ennis out there with them because he is on the court to defer. He allows more prolific offensive players to dominate possessions. Michael Carter-Williams often takes over possessions that maybe should focus on Giannis or Monroe. So Ennis was perfect at that point.

But later in the game, when the Celtics were collapsing all over Monroe and Giannis was dealing with foul trouble and Middleton was struggling from the field, Ennis was a nightmare because he couldn’t do much to help out, as he isn’t very good at any specific thing. Milwaukee is dealing with this problem quite a bit because almost none of its bench players have the ability to generate any offense. Hopefully, Greivis Vasquez will join the team soon. Jason Kidd hasn’t mentioned anything about his availability lately, though.

John Henson, PF 10 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -22 +/-

Never getting a shot at the power forward spot? Not even a few minutes? Just to see what happens? Just to see if it could help the team possibly grab a few more rebounds? Just to try and get another capable player on the court? Never?

Damien Inglis, SF 12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-2 3FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -14 +/-

He’s in a role similar to the one Giannis was in as a rookie. He does a lot of standing around in the corners offensively. He’s active and aware on defense; he certainly knows where the help line is. But he doesn’t make many impact plays the way Giannis occasionally would as a rookie. There aren’t many moments from him when you watch him and think, “wow, this guy could be something special.” There are a lot of moments when you watch him and think, “he runs kind of weird.”

Chris Copeland, SF 5 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -9 +/-

Mop up duty.

Miles Plumlee, C 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1 +/-

Mop up duty.

Johnny O’Bryant III, C 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -24 +/-

At one point, O’Bryant – under the hoop – caught a quick pass from Giannis on the perimeter and went up for a shot over Kelly Olynyk. Either Olynyk blocked his shot or he just lost it on the way up. But O’Bryant gathered up the offensive rebound and took a few dribbled away from the hoop. He was posted up and holding onto the ball for what felt like a few seconds. He stared across the court at a teammate and fired a pass … directly into the hands of Jae Crowder, who took it the other way for two free throws. Not great.

Greivis Vasquez, PG 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PTS | -20 +/-

WAIT. GREIVIS VASQUEZ IS ON THE ACTIVE ROSTER AND PLAYING?! I didn’t realize that’s who this guy that keeps missing all his shots and turning the ball over was. Wow. Crazy. Man, Greivis Vasquez is struggling. His 1-3 shooting night tied for his second-best shooting night of the season. He has not shot better than 40% in any game.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 30 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-4 3FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -8 +/-

He’s the closest thing Milwaukee has to an offensive creator on the bench. He’s been the only reserve to provide any scoring lift, but asking him to keep doing it night in and night out is too much to require. He’ll have more games like this one than he will like those 20-point nights. But if he were able to knock down four free throws and two threes every night, he’d be blowing away expectations of a third/fourth combo guard.

Rashad Vaughn, SG 6 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -9 +/-

Minutes aren’t coming with much frequency, but he makes shots when he’s called upon. He hit another from the corner on Tuesday.

Jason Kidd

It was good that he left Giannis on the court in the third quarter after he quickly picked up his fourth foul. The game slipped away early on when Giannis, Monroe, and the starters came out, so it was good to see Kidd stick with them. The Celtics did a good job adjusting after Monroe killed them early, and Kidd and the Bucks had no answer for Boston’s adjustment. I’m not blaming all that on Kidd because he’s not working with much here.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Boston grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and Coach Kidd was obviously not pleased about it after the game. I asked him about the recurring offensive rebound problem.

    “That’s what we do. We give up offensive rebounds. We’re 30th in rebounding, and I think we’re on course of not moving out of the 30th spot. And it’s something we’ve gotta get better at. You’re not going to win any game, no matter who you’re playing, if you give up that many rebounds.”

  2. Bench points: Boston 50, Milwaukee 25. Milwaukee’s reserves so often carried them to start last season that it helped mask some issues the starting lineup had. Now the starting lineup is okay and possibly getting better, but it isn’t good enough to balance out a bench that has been atrocious. Balance was supposed to be a strong suit for Milwaukee, but Boston effectively went ten deep and Milwaukee couldn’t handle it.

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  1. I can’t help but pick on Kidd’s rotation-heavy defense at times. I lost count of how many times a mismatch has been created because one of our guards or smaller players ended up getting stuck on a power forward or center. Bayless in particular seems to always get in that situation and you can just see how exasperated he gets. Boston meanwhile ran a more conservative defense, a lot of man to man with Olynyk moving just enough to block off driving lanes and throwing the doubles on Monroe when necessary. A lot less mismatches, a lot less confusion for the team and a much better defensive outing as a whole.

    I know Kidd likes to play small, but yeah, I don’t see why it’d hurt to at least attempt to put Monroe and Henson together on the court, especially when we’re getting killed on the glass and on defense as a whole. Kidd gets praised for his willingness to tinker and experiment with different lineups, but his absolute distaste for playing a more conventional two big lineup is confusing, to say the least.

    But yeah, Giannis and Parker have great chemistry going back to last season and it showed more tonight. Parker looks more comfortable each game, and we’ll need quality minutes out of him given how poorly guys like Copeland have played (JOB has surprisingly been decent there this season, but inconsistent). Giannis really needs to know when to dial it back on offense, because in the two instances where we played a good/competent team, the Wizards and the Celtics, they knew to hold position and were able to pick up easy charges on Giannis which sent him to the bench early and often.

    It’s encouraging seeing him want to be aggressive and take control of the offense at times, but he’s gotta do a better job picking his spots and playing smarter.

    • Team lacked fire. In the New York game, Henson had fire. They were very content with making sloppy passes and playing poorly.

      Egregious Vasquez needs to improve quickly. He can’t shoot.

      Giannis is only 20 – I think he will learn. I’m already seeing he is confident with taking wide open shots this season. This makes him less one-dimensional, as the defense will have to learn to honor his shot.

      Team needs to run to the grocery store to pick up some O.J.

  2. Loving the progression of Giannis, the overall play of Moose, the aggressive play of Bayless off the bench, and Parker’s game-by-game improvements. Looking forward to seeing Juice and MCW get back in the mix soon.

    Henson & Monroe…let’s see it. Try as he might, and he tries mightily, JOB is not the answer. Henson is too productive to play so little, especially given the state of the 2nd unit.

    And Vasquez…ugh. Let’s hope it get better, because it cannot get any worse. No positives. If I had a nickel for every time I threw his name in ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine this week…

  3. I don’t think anyone besides Monroe, Jabari, and Bayless deserves higher than a C. The effort was just not there. Kidd was outcoached. After a hot start don’t pull the productive guys especially after saying you ride the hot hand. Who cares about a back to back this team is young let em run. Losses happen, but it should have been more competitive.