Still defenseless: Raptors 106 – Bucks 87

Milwaukee Bucks 87 Final
Recap | Box Score
106 Toronto Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 33 MIN | 8-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | PTS | 20 +/-

As was the case in game two against the Wizards, Giannis was by far the team’s most effective player. He was good in transition, he was good in the half court, he defended with energy and he rebounded. So it was strange to see him sitting on the bench as Milwaukee watched the Raptors grow their lead from six points to 17 points over the course of about six minutes to start the fourth quarter. The game was over by the time he got back into the game. For whatever reason, the game was in the hands of Chris Copeland, MCW and Greivis Vasquez rather than the team’s budding superstar. It was bizarre.

That group had done well to close the gap, but it’s hard to expect a team of reserves to narrow a lead and then get over the hump. That’s why Giannis exists! He’s the team’s best player!

Khris Middleton, SF 29 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | PTS | 8 +/-

Not only did Middleton not shoot well, but Giannis eventually took on the responsibility of defending DeMar DeRozan, who gave Middleton all kinds of problems early on. DeRozan made his first five shots with Middleton defending him. He used a variety of spin moves and screens to get into the paint and create space for good looks. Middleton did not look like the three and D expert everyone expects him to be.

Greg Monroe, C 28 MIN | 5-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | PTS | 14 +/-

With a season-low seven shots, Monroe wasn’t able to do much damage on the offensive end, which was a bummer because he had a hard time defending Jonas Valanciunas on the other side of the court. The Raptors big man gave both Monroe and Miles Plumlee buckets out of the post en route to a 19 point, eight rebound night.

He’s got work to do defensively and as a rebounder, but the five assists were nice, especially two early where he found teammates cutting back door. Milwaukee needs to be looking for those opportunities for easy buckets as often as possible considering Monroe’s passing ability.

Johnny O’Bryant III, C 27 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | PTS | 2 +/-

Milwaukee gave up 18 offensive rebounds. O’Bryant was a big part of the problem. He also continues to fire up jumpers that rarely fall and pose little to no threat of scoring when he catches to ball in the paint.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 33 MIN | 3-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | PTS | 12 +/-

He hit his first two threes, which gave me cause for optimism despite Milwaukee’s early deficit. His next two threes were both airballs and his final three clanged hard off the backboard. Given what we’ve seen so far this season, it feels safe to say he’s still not there as a shooter most of the time, but if he’s wide open as has some time to set up, he can make a three.

Aside from his struggles shooting, it’s hard to notice much positive impact MCW made on Sunday night. Turnovers were a problem again, and he wasn’t able to get to the rim, where he’s by far most productive.

Chris Copeland, SF 21 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | PTS | 10 +/-

The consistency he’s had as a 3-point shooter has been about all the consistency the Bucks have had this season. He’s always ready to get his shots up. Defensively he looks confused and slow at times, which isn’t helping Milwaukee’s bench limit opponents. He seems to get turned around more than most Bucks players, which causes him to lose the ball and end up a little bit off with his timing getting where he needs to go.

Damien Inglis, SF 4 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | PTS | 2 +/-

Played in garbage time, didn’t do much.

Miles Plumlee, C 15 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | PTS | 8 +/-

It was nice to see some of his activity as a shot-blocker since Monroe isn’t much for blocking shots. The same thing happened both Friday night and Sunday night when he was guarding a big man one-on-one. On Friday against Nene and Sunday against Valanciunas he leaned heavily on them in the post and was playing very physical defense. But both times Nene and Jonas spun towards the baseline and Plumlee lunged forward after losing his balance. He needs to be able to play physical but also not be so susceptible to losing his balance if a guy makes a move. Both times the offensive player scored.

Greivis Vasquez, PG 25 MIN | 2-7 FG | 5-5 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | PTS | 9 +/-

He is not fast. He seems slower than Kendall Marshall, even and he isn’t bringing the offensive cohesion that Marshall brought either. Vasquez is tasked with covering quite a bit of ground defensively on the weak side when his man is over there, and the Bucks are stacked on the strong side. He doesn’t seem cut out for those responsibilities. That’s where the Bucks are getting in trouble and allowing a lot of open threes.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 22 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | PTS | 2 +/-

Not much impact from Bayless once again.

Rashad Vaughn, SG 4 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | PTS | 0 +/-

Garbage time minutes.

John Henson, PF DNP SORE LEFT ACHILLES TENDON MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

Did not make the trip.

O.J. Mayo, SG DNP RIGHT HAMSTRING MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

Did not make the trip.

Jason Kidd

Not bringing Giannis back earlier was very strange. It’s clear Kidd is still figuring out what he wants to do and who he wants to play together. He said after Friday night’s game that Vasquez and MCW would typically play separately and for long stretches, but MCW was the first guy out, and those two were getting minutes together in the second half.

Two Things We Saw

  1. The Bucks trailed by six early in the fourth quarter when Vasquez took a few extra steps getting to Terrance Ross in the corner and Copeland helped very far off Patrick Patterson. Ross and Patterson responded with threes, and the game was never within 10 points again. Those tiny moments defensively make a big difference. And that’s the power of having shooters all over the court.
  2. I wrote about this earlier, but it deserves emphasis: 18 offensive rebounds! That led to 19 second-chance points. O’Bryant was a big part of the problem, but Monroe struggled to keep Valanciunas off the glass, and DeMarre Carroll was sliding in for occasional offensive boards too. Defensive rebounding was a problem for Milwaukee last year, and it’s been a problem thus far this year as well.

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5 Comments

  1. The defense has been absolutely atrocious thus far. There are two shots you absolutely have to be able to defend well: inside the paint, and behind the three point line- and the Bucks haven’t been able to stop either. Kidd’s rotation-happy help defense is not working so far. The team is so out of sync, it’s hard to watch.

    Middleton has been arguably the most disappointing. He’s missing good opportunities on offense while doing a rather mediocre to downright terrible job defensively.

    Honestly, the entire back court was terrible tonight, which begs the question of why Kidd wouldn’t at least give Ingles/Vaughn a look to see what they could possibly contribute. If the veterans aren’t cutting it, give the young players a chance to show what they can do. Don’t pull some Scott Skiles BS.

    But yeah, sitting Giannis for so long in the fourth quarter was unfathomably dumb. Just frustrating stuff all around. The defense HAS to figure this out.

  2. I can’t believe this stat for The Bucks, of all teams: It’s the first time the team has started a season with three consecutive losses since 1976-77, when it dropped five straight. Milwaukee previously had the longest streak in NBA history without starting 0-3.

  3. Bucks lose their first three games for the first time since an 0-5 beginning in 1976-77. Milwaukee had the longest streak in NBA history without starting 0-3 end with a 106-87 defeat at Toronto.

    Brooklyn is 0-3 too. Bucks need to get a win tonight. I really don’t see Brooklyn being any good this year so as long as Milwaukee plays a somewhat better defensive game and score efficiently they should get a win.