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Bucks vs. Sixers Final Score: Costly Turnovers Doom Milwaukee Down the Stretch, 114-109

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The Bucks allow an 8-0 Philadelphia run in the final minute to lose late lead

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Well at least we know what drills the Bucks will be practicing tomorrow. Milwaukee bungled several inbounding plays down the stretch in a 114-109 loss they were fortunate to even be in, given Philadelphia’s dominating offensive performance against the Bucks in the first half.

Giannis was pedestrian for most of the night, his 17 point, 12 rebound, five assist and four steal night doesn’t jive with what was a passive, ineffective performance as he shot merely 7-19 including 0-7 from three. Jabari finished with 20 points and three blocks, but the real star tonight was Greg Monroe, whose season-high 28 points and nine rebounds punctuated one of his best performances this season in a game when the Bucks sorely needed it.

Wily veteran Gerald Henderson led Philadelphia with 20 points, including some clutch, contested jumpers down the stretch, while Ersan “The Professional” Ilyasova mustered 17 points and nine rebounds. Nerlens Noel ended with 16 points and 13 rebounds while T.J. McConnell had seven points and 13 assists.

Milwaukee looked like gangbusters to start, exploding for 39 points in the first, but their abhorrent defensive effort caught up to them, as Philadelphia maneuvered wherever they wished on the court. They found open rollers and shooters repeatedly, and despite the Bucks working their way back in the second half by slapping a saddle on Greg Monroe, their three-point lead with just over a minute left imploded faster than a marshmallow in a microwave, with several ill-timed turnovers on inbound plays and sending Philadelphia to the line six times in the final minute.

The Bucks shot 46.2% on the night to Philadelphia’s 53.3%, holding the Sixers to just 26 three-pointers after their 37 attempts last week. However, the Sixers splashed in 12 of those (only two less than last week) for 46.2% shooting compared to Milwaukee’s 7-28 effort from three. Even 24 Philadelphia turnovers leading to 26 points for Milwaukee wasn’t enough, as Philadelphia mined 33 points off 19 turnovers for the Bucks.

Giannis scored six of the Bucks’ first nine points, but Philadelphia answered with unabated penetration to the tin several times. Delly answered a spinning T.J. McConnell layup by tossing a flip lob to Plumlee, who snuck in behind a helping Nerlens Noel for takeoff to make it 15-9. 3rsan exacted his early revenge with two snappy threes, but Jabari and Giannis both found easy buckets on cuts to the rim.

Brogdon found Greg Monroe rolling with a pinpoint pass between two Sixer defenders to make it 24-23. Milwaukee kept their offensive ways rolling with Jabari and Moose continuing to pummel the hoop as the Bucks led 39-33 after one. Jabari finished with nine points, Giannis added eight and Greg Monroe led with 11 points as the Sixers had no solutions to his inside game.

Malcolm Brogdon jumped on the trampoline to start the second quarter, sizing up Nerlens Noel for a proper 24x36 poster.

Milwaukee leaped ahead as Mirza Teletovic finally started hitting his threes, bombing in three quick ones as Milwaukee led 51-41 after a Jason Terry layup. The Bucks’ defense continued to wane however, as the Sixers outran Milwaukee down the court and took up residence near the rim, going on an 18-2 run to retake a 59-53 lead after Jabari failed to get his hand up on a Covington three-pointer.

The Sixers bevy of passes and cuts left Milwaukee’s defense completely discombobulated in the second quarter, as the Bucks’ offense short-circuited time and again with butterfingers possessions, isolation eye-sores and an inability to hit any perimeter shots. Philadelphia went into the half leading 72-58, finishing the quarter on a 31-7 run.

Jabari ended the half with 12 points and an uncharacteristic three blocks and Giannis had 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals. Every one of Milwaukee’s starters had negative plus-minuses in double digits, as they continued to hemorrhage points after the bench left the game.

Milwaukee royalty Ersan Ilyasova led Philadelphia with 15 points and one gutsy drawn charge while Dario Saric was the only other Sixer in double digits with 13 points. Philadelphia shot 62.2% on the half, including 9-13 (69.2) from deep while Milwaukee still shot a respectable 52.2% overall, although only 4-12 from deep, three of which came from Mirza Teletovic.

Milwaukee’s offensive woes didn’t relent to start the second half despite keeping the Sixers from scoring for the first three minutes. Sauce Castillo drilled a three-pointer to put Philadelphia up 77-62, which Parker answered with a skying slam dunk and free throws on a subsequent position to get Milwaukee within ten. Its Offense stalling soon after, Milwaukee finally found some success late in the third as Greg Monroe poured in two easy layups and Tony Snell hit a second-chance jumper to bring the Sixers lead down to seven. Monroe snagged another bucket at the rim, and the quarter finished with the Bucks down 88-82.

Meandering to the basket early in the fourth, Mirza Teletovic’s lob to Jabari Parker put Milwaukee within 90-87. After Greg Monroe continued putting in work, Matthew Dellavedova’s three-pointer gave Milwaukee its first lead, 97-96, since midway through the second quarter. Giannis snapped out of his offensive funk with a layup (granted, after a rough brick from three) and an and-one for merely his third free throw attempt of the night to put Milwaukee ahead 102-100.

After Philadelphia tied it up, they went back-and-forth with a Tony Snell corner three putting Milwaukee up 105-104. Philly answered, but Jabari hit a turnaround jumper in the lane and Moose banked in a dump off from Dellavedova as he drove baseline to put the Bucks up three with a little over a minute left. After picking off a cross court pass, Jabari Parker negated a potential game-sealing slam by slapping Robert Covington in the face, instead sending him to the line to bring it to 109-108.

Giannis bobbled the impending inbound, and grabbed it across halfcourt for an over-the-back call. A silly foul by Tony Snell on Nerlens Noel quickly followed, and just like that, Philly led by one. Greg Monroe missed Giannis coming wide open for a lob off an ATO free throw line screen, and Nerlens Noel splashed a jumper before Giannis took a quick pull-up three that missed. The Sixers hit their free throws, and a Parker three caromed off the rim, prompting a smattering of boos for the Bucks in a 114-109 loss.

Thoughts:

The first quarter was a free-for-all at the hoop for both teams. Milwaukee let Sixers bigs roll to the rim and guards glide in unfettered, while the Sixers matched their ineptitude at the rim allowing Milwaukee to score 28 points in the paint in the period, even with Nerlens Noel in the lineup to start.

Malcolm Brogdon tried throwing a sort of, but not really alley-oop to a cutting Teletovic that turned into a nasty shot that hit the back of the iron. Envisioning that sequence somehow coming to fruition remained one of the highlights of the night.

Philadelphia had 25 assists on 28 made field goals in the first half. Most of those were due to lackadaisical interior defense by Milwaukee, where the Bucks failed to recover on rolling big men or failed to properly contest Sixers on the perimeter. The lack of Joel Embiid should’ve made Milwaukee’s job easier, but they seemed completely incapable of matching up on a man and simply staying with him all night. At one point, Telly Hughes remarked on the broadcast that Greg Monroe commented, “Just find the man closest to you and guard him.” Unfortunately, it didn’t take.

There was a double lane violation on a free throw attempt tonight in the second quarter. It was probably the third most fascinating thing to happen that quarter for Milwaukee. It was not a good quarter for Milwaukee.

It’s hard to overstate just how porous the Bucks defense was in the first half. Porous to the point it warrants a second bullet. In the second quarter swoon, they seemed unable to get their hands on Sixer passes to the interior like they were able to against James Harden. Even when they did, they rarely converted turnovers into points, with only 10 points on 12 Sixer turnovers in the first half. Even the most minute movement by a Sixer player towards the hoop seemed to stump the Bucks’ defenders tonight as Philly found solace near the rim time and again.

Milwaukee’s offense was distressingly awful in the second quarter, and nearly as bad for the majority of the third. They forced passes that weren’t there, couldn’t get anyone open after ample success in the first quarter, and Philadelphia played off, daring them to hit from outside or try to drive right into awaiting defenders. Parker provided the only respite on a possession whereby the Bucks passed it around the perimeter as if it was a drill before Brogdon made a feint into the lane to dish for a whirling Jabari. Milwaukee failed to provide enough off-ball movement, and Greg Monroe felt like the only consistent offensive threat. Here’s that ephemeral glimpse at hope from Bari:

Giannis showed no offensive flow after his initial stint in the first quarter. He looked passive, settling for several three-pointers, clapping his hands on the perimeter at Brogdon instead of trying to cut to the lane and generally showing hesitation while attempting to reach the basket. In the fourth quarter, he got a block on one end and instead of pushing to the other end like he has all season, he slowed up and tried to find Terry in the corner for a three that bricked.

Greg Monroe was by far the Bucks’ best player tonight. While he got worked in the first half defensively, he was the only one able to consistently make buckets down low. He outworked several different Sixer defenders to grab offensive and defensive rebounds and ate up both Nerlens Noel and Richaun Holmes on the block. His season-high 28 points and clichéd dedication to hustle were really the main reason Milwaukee won the game.

Milwaukee should consider themselves lucky to even be in this game down the stretch, and their utter inability to score in the clutch resulted in not only horrendously timed turnovers, but subjecting us to a Dellavedova runner-hook shot hybrid rather than Giannis just trying to take his shot. Of course, the Giannis “shoot your shot” strategy also led to a difficult pull-up three while attempting to tie the game. The team’s inauspicious ability to not hold onto late leads only grows.