The Bucks won the first quarter 27-23 Thursday in Memphis. That was about when things started to go wrong for Milwaukee. The Bucks scored just 53 points the rest of the way, while the Grizzlies put up 80 points in the remaining three quarters on their way to a 103-83 victory.
The first quarter wasn't particularly appealing to the eye, but it did feature 12 points from Khris Middleton on five-of-ten shooting. Middleton was able to keep the Bucks afloat, while the rest of the team struggled. After a solid first quarter, the Bucks took Middleton off the floor and the bench promptly allowed the Grizzlies to rattle off a 12-2 run in the second quarter's first three minutes. The Bucks were able to cut the deficit to just two at 39-37 before the Pacers rattled off an 11-4 run to close out the first half with a 50-41 lead. In the second quarter, the Bucks only scored 14 points with ten of them coming from Greg Monroe.
The Bucks allowed the Grizzlies to score the first six points of the second half and things just got ugly from there. The Grizzlies were hitting threes all over the place, putting in eight threes in the second half after hitting just one in the first half. After the initial run, the Bucks were never able to cut the Grizzlies' lead to single digits in the second half. Ultimately, the 20 point loss was not all that indicative of a game the Grizzlies led by 27 at one point in the fourth quarter.
- John Henson did not make the trip to Memphis. He was a late scratch before Wednesday's flight with a sore back. Jason Kidd mentioned that he was not sure if Henson would suit up against Miami on Friday.
- The Bucks' first play of the night was a set to get Jabari Parker a jumper at the left elbow.
- With Henson out, Miles Plumlee entered the game with 6 minutes left in the first quarter. It was his first non-garbage time action since some third quarter action against the Knicks on January 10th.
- Middleton scored 12 points in the first quarter on 5-of-10 shooting. He ended the game with 15 points.
- Monroe scored 17 first half points with ten in the second quarter. He ended the game with 21 points.
- O'Bryant and Plumlee started the fourth quarter alongside Bayless, Vaughn, and Middleton.
- Antetokounmpo was ejected with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter for jawing with official James Capers.
- The Bucks went with Tyler Ennis, Vaughn, Chris Copeland, O'Bryant, and Plumlee for the final six minutes of the game.
- I don't have any data to support this, but it seems as though Middleton has been getting his hands on the ball more often defensively. He's more often looked like the 2014-15 version of Middleton on defense in recent weeks, but still nowhere near that same level for an entire game.
- Michael Carter-Williams was very active offensively in the first quarter tonight. It was not helping the Bucks' offense. It was sort of strange to see him so active after he had seemingly made a conscious effort to be more of a bit player in the last few weeks.
- The Bucks' transition defense was awful.
- Antetokounmpo and Parker were invisible in the first half. I typed this at halftime, hoping that I would be able to say something like, "They turned it on in the second half though and dominated the fourth quarter." Unfortunately, they were awful in the second half as well. Each of them scored seven points on the night with Parker making two of five shots and Antetokounmpo hitting just two of his ten attempts.
- Following Kevin Durant's comments regarding how much the Thunder pass the ball, an interesting piece popped up at Nylon Calculus, which mentioned the style of different teams and how certain teams might not actually benefit from passing the ball more. The Bucks have a number of players that are probably better in isolation situations and may not actually benefit from moving the ball like many would assume. Just something to consider.
- Last game, I mentioned that I didn't think Kidd's assessment of the Bucks defensive problem (effort) was truthful and instead blamed it on the players not executing their responsibilities. I should have also mentioned that the Bucks' defensive scheme regularly puts defenders in bad positions. Teams have been more prepared for the Bucks' scheme this entire season and know the easiest ways to puncture it. The coaching staff has not figured out the proper adjustment(s) to make to stop the onslaught of open threes.