Let's set some music to get us in the mood here. Please play this as you read through.
Yeah, this song doesn't make much sense as it relates to basketball. But it makes you feel sad, just like the Bucks game may have tonight. The Bucks put up arguably their most uninspired performance against the streaking Blazers, losing 91-82 and falling to an Eastern Conference worst 2-8 record. Let's dive into this mess.
Ersan Ilyasova was finally able to fight off that pesky ankle injury and contribute a shade under 22 minutes tonight. However, Ilyasova struggled to get into the flow of the game, shooting 2-8 from the field and 1-3 from three. He also displayed much difficulty in rotating over quickly to the guy with the ball, a reccurring theme on the night. It is tough to get up to speed after being out with a lingering injury though, so we'll give Ilyasova the benefit of the doubt for now.
John Henson did manage to compile ten points, seven rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals tonight, but he did shoot 5-11 from the field. As Frank said in the earlier recap, that's not a horrible percentage, but it is a bummer considering how well Henson had been shooting the ball early on this season. Also, Henson was guarded by Robin Lopez for most of the night, and Lopez did fairly well anticipating Henson's intention to go to his left hand in the post. Henson rarely got to that hook shot, and had to find new ways to get shots off, with less than ideal results. Example: on one post touch in the third quarter he countered back to his weaker right hand, bricking it hard off glass to the right (no rim, sadly).
Khris Middleton shot a perfect 4-4 from the field tonight, three of them on athletic finishes around the hoop, totaling eight points. He did have two silly turnovers, but only played less than 20 minutes, so it's hard to say if more Middleton burn would have had any more of a positive effect on the outcome of the game. He may not carry the veteran presence or local influence that Butler has, but I'm having a hard time coming up with reasons why their two minute totals shouldn't be more even. Nonetheless, this may be a situation that never see a proper examination.
Infinity. Well, obviously this isn't real, but on seemingly countless possessions during the second half, the Bucks defense was slow in making their rotations quickly, leading to a steady stream of open shots for Portland. This was mainly evident when Portland would run some P&R action to one side of the court while having whoever leak out of it to the weak side corner or wing wide open. Damian Lillard and company were then regularly able to draw a second defender and rapidly swing the ball around to spot-up shooters for open looks. This happened over and over in the second half, and eventually kept Portland far enough ahead of the Bucks where they couldn't muster any sort of legitimate comeback.
Zero minutes were issued to Giannis Antetokounmpo this evening. That's not a total shock considering the return of Butler and Ilyasova to the lineup, but it would have been nice to see Giannis go against his most common player comp in Nicolas Batum, if even for five or ten minutes.
35.7. That was the Bucks three-point percentage tonight, which was worse than their 43.8 percent from the field. The Bucks had been thriving from beyond the arc so far this season, actually performing better from there than inside the arc. It's no secret that the Bucks need to make threes to stay in and win games, too. When they only make five of them, chances are extremely high that they will go home with a real case of the sads that night.
O.J. Mayo attacked the rim late in the game and came down hard after missing the layup. He immediately grabbed at his ankle, but managed to spring back up and jog down the court. Mayo did acknowledge after the game did he did indeed injure the ankle, but that there would be no real need for him to get a MRI and that he'd be ready to play Friday in Philadelphia.
Luke Ridnour is just about back to being his old Luke Ridnour-y self, logging just under 30 minutes on the night. Our pal Jeremy Schmidt from Bucksketball made a great observation in pointing that out that Ridnour does a good job impacting the offense consistently, whereas his backup Nate Wolters does a good job of making a few plays while keeping the offense running. That's no knock on the rookie, but it is nice to have someone at that position capable of handling a little bit more responsibility in the offense.
The Bucks will head to Philly on Friday to face the Sixers before returning home Saturday to take on the Bobcats. This will begin a ten game stretch against opponents with a winning percentage of .354. This won't be a total representation of where this team is at, but it should be the start of a proper assessment.