Usually when you hear the saying ''play the full 48," the emphasis is on those precious final minutes of the contest. With the Bucks on this young season, the saying should be edited to something more fitting, say, "play the first 24."
The Bucks did falter down the stretch in a similar fashion to their home opener against the Raptors, and that's whatever, really. Some of that definitely can be chalked up to poor execution, but a lot of this team's late game shortcomings are due to having to climb mountains to get there (and not the fun Coors Light mountains either).
This pattern continues to repeat itself: The Bucks fall down by a dozen points or more, sneak their way back into it, and run out of gas The narrative was the same once again on Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, as the Bucks fell under .500 with a 91-83 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
O.J. Mayo. Mayo was the only consistent offensive threat Saturday, scoring 28 points on 11-20 shooting to go along with six rebounds. He did have six turnovers, but you can kind of live with those if he's putting up that many points. I mean, someone had to score out there on a night when the offense was going ghost, though the timing of them was particularly painful (five in the fourth quarter).
Brandon Knight. After injuring his hamstring less than two minutes into the season, Knight finally returned to action tonight. He only scored six points, but just having another guy to handle the ball when Wolters is getting a breather (wait, did I really just type that?) is nice. Knight showed aggressiveness on both ends but seemed to be trying just a little bit too hard, which is understandable for now. We'll assess what he can do once he gets settled back in to the rotation.
Caron Butler. Butler had a surprising double-double, with 19 points and 13 rebounds. On paper that looks fantastic, but Butler oftentimes went iso in either bad spots on the court or bad spots in the game. Since he's the veteran on the team counted on to do the most, he must think that he needs to make the shot at times. To counter that point, no. No he should not feel that way.
8. That is the total number of rebounds that the Bucks bench managed to collect. DeJuan Blair had 3 more rebounds than the ENTIRE BUCKS BENCH.
4. That's how many consecutive games rookie Nate Wolters has gone with 5+ assists and no more than one turnover.
Steve Nash Wolters continues to show that he's deserving of time on the court. That's a rare good problem for Larry Drew to have right now.
39.5. That there is the Bucks shooting percentage in the paint, going 17-43 from that area. (Hint: That is really, really, really bad).
Health (kind of). Slowly but surely, the Bucks are starting to get guys back and keep them healthy. With Sanders and Ilyasova likely set to suit up Tuesday when they take on the Heat, the Bucks will finally be at "full strength" for the first time this season. That's not to say that they'll hit the ground running and reel off 27 in a row, but we'll at least get a chance to get a full evaluation of the roster, rotations, and lineup strategies. That's good news, right?
Threeeeee(s)! The Bucks continue to shoot well from outside the arc, going 11-23 tonight. At least one of their projected strengths going into the season is actually holding up so far. If they can find a way to convert at a higher rate around the basket, then that will likely help the offense open up for more threes. Don't ask me how that will happen, though.
Khris Middleton played a valuable 17 minutes tonight, knocking down both of his threes and not doing anything terribly damaging defensively. He always seems to find himself in the lineup that helps trigger those lively comebacks, only to be taken out for Butler. After that, the game seems to be entirely up in the air.
In more direct words, this is me calling for more Khris Middleton burn. That is all.
62.5%. The Bucks shot poorly from the free throw line again (10/16), especially late in the game during the comeback. Even Zaza Pachulia joined in on the madness, missing his first free throw of the season. Along with turnovers and defensive rebounding, these are the things keeping the Bucks from completing their nightly comeback attempts. Missing shots is a lot easier to swallow than missing opportunities, and the Bucks are doing far too much of the latter to expect to pull these games out.
Flash mob. Dallas did a good job of crowding the lane whenever Henson or Pachulia got the ball in the post, leading to them having to attempt their post moves in heavy traffic. With both of those guys struggling to score away from the basket, getting easy shots was a very difficult battle all night long, one they could not overcome for the most part.
Hero ball. With no star, hero ball usually ends in a disaster for this club. Creating shots isn't this team's strength, so further inhibiting that by not getting the ball moving around is a bad recipe for offensive success. If they want to succeed, they should stay very, VERY far away from hero ball going forward. Take note, O.J. and Caron.
Larry Drew on playing from behind all the time:
"Yeah we had a good comeback but I'm done playing that game. I'm tired of playing comeback basketball, I really am. It just takes too much out of you, which I told our guys. It's a carbon copy of our game up in New York and our game in Boston. We get down because offensively we don't move the ball. We keep the ball on one side of the floor and we keep playing one-on-one. For us, that is a recipe for disaster. It wasn't as much as what Dallas was doing to us but more of what we did to us."
O.J. Mayo on the slow starts:
"We'll probably watch a little film and see what it is. I thought we got off to a good start and it kind of died down towards the end of the first. We have to keep our energy. We're at home, we're paid millions of dollars to play basketball, so we have to keep the energy. We had a chance to win this game tonight, just didn't get it done."