'Twas a game of mixed feelings, really. On one hand, the Bucks stuck with a Western Conference playoff contender in the Blazers for the entire game, and even had a shot at the end of regulation to sneak out of town with a victory. On the other hand, the Bucks played well but kept pace in the race with the Sixers, losing in overtime 120-115.
Going into the game, the Bucks were expected to struggle mightily against the potent Portland offense, but managed to hold them to 43 percent shooting and come away with a 107.1 defensive rating. Portland wound up with four players scoring 20 or more points (Batum-21, Matthews-26, Lillard-20, Williams-23), but none of them were consistently effective enough for Portland to get the separation from Milwaukee that was expected from the start. Batum was the most noticeable in this regard, racking up 16 points with ease in the first quarter, but only managing to get five more points the rest of the game.
For the Bucks, this is just another stop on the Good Medicine Tastes Bad train. It's hard to exactly put into words, so I'll let NBATV's Rick Fox take it from here (gif courtesy of @cjzero).
- The Bucks were again led by Brandon Knight (24p/8r/4a/2s/4to) and Ramon Sessions (23p/5r/5a). Though Khris Middleton, Ersan Ilyasova, and Zaza Pachulia had decent contributing efforts, it was mostly Knight and Sessions that the Bucks relied on for their offense in the second half. To their credit, they continued to keep the Bucks offense relatively functional when it seemed like the game was ready to tilt towards Portland at any moment.
- Perhaps Milwaukee would have been able to steal a victory if they had been able to convert on same late free throws. They were 17-26 (65.4 percent) on the night, but a few clunkers late allowed Portland to either pull ahead or tie the game with one basket, rather than find a way to come up with consecutive baskets and stops on the other end. It may not have ultimately made a difference, but you'd like to think that I'd be writing a victory recap if a few more of those free throws had gone down.
- After taking the shooting collar in the first half (0/6), Khris Middleton finished with a strong all-around line of 18p/6r/5a/0to on 7-17 shooting. It was nice to see Middleton find a way to work through his slump, something that probably is more important for himself than anything else. Consider Middleton's performance a microcosm of the Bucks performance tonight. It could have been very easy to fold and give in to a disappointing night, but they stuck with it and found a way to keep their head above water, even if it didn't result in any immediate gain.
- Did you see this Giannis Antetokounmpo/Jeff Adrien combo-block? If you have already seen it, let's watch 100 more times.
- Speaking of Giannis, his overall line was again underwhelming (4p/2r/1 to on 2/6 shooting in 20 min) but he looked better in the second half with a pair of aggressive drives and finishes (one left, one right).
- Zaza Pachulia (17p/13r) and Ersan Ilyasova (12p/9r) had good activity tonight, but made their biggest impact on the game by making sure everyone in the building was knocked to the ground at least once. Even I was hip-checked off my couch by a phantom force during the second half. It was wild.
- Quick question: Would you rather have life in prison or get two first half fouls under Larry Drew's tutilege?
- Let us have some fun with this. Whaddya say?
Caption this. pic.twitter.com/DKcsOxJF6k— Aron Yohannes (@AronYohannes) March 19, 2014