In a burn the tape type game, the Milwaukee Bucks were obliterated by the 3-win Dallas Mavericks tonight, 111-79. Dallas staked ahead after one quarter, 33-24, with Milwaukee’s defense crumbling down the stretch and an unforgiving rim rejecting several near Bucks buckets. Their putrid performance on both ends of the court wasn’t curtailed in the second quarter either, heading into halftime trailing 56-44. A 41.2% shooting performance for Milwaukee and general inability to stop Dallas from ever getting to their spots made for some difficult viewing. Speaking of difficult viewing, there was still plenty of depressing play still to come as the Bucks were down 82-61 after the third. I hope you were able to turn the television off then, as the fourth quarter only continued the punishment Milwaukee inflicted on viewers tonight.
Eric Bledsoe’s aggressiveness in the second quarter may not have netted significant points, but it did lead to three quick Mavericks fouls within the first several minutes. The Bucks offense looked staid to that point and Bledsoe’s unrelenting attacks on the corgi legs of J.J. Barea was a welcome sight for my sore eyes. At the very least, it broke the Mavs from the offensive run they were on, disrupting their rhythm and turning it into a slugfest better fitting the Bucks poor offensive output to that point. His torrid pace and confidence have helped prevent scoring droughts that have plagued plenty of mid-half Milwaukee lineups in the past. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for the rest of the evening.
Milwaukee’s defense was completely out of sorts tonight. Dallas obliterated their overloading style repeatedly as defenders failed to recover to their men on the perimeter. Even when they did happen to shut things down at the point of attack, the Mavericks found an outlet pass that started a new passing sequence that sent Bucks scrambling like deer during hunting season. Over and over the Mavericks found the open man with the extra pass after minimal penetration. Dallas assisted on 89% of their 19 first half baskets, illustrating their deft carving up of Milwaukee’s decrepit defense. The second half featured much of the same broken tape on repeat.
Dallas was ranked just 28th in terms of defensive rating coming into tonight (109.3), but held the Bucks to a horrendous 84.1 offensive rating. Dallas was ranked 25th in the league on 3-point percentage coming into tonight (34.3%), but ended with a piping hot 50% on the evening. Part of that should be chocked up to an outlier for the Mavericks, but there were plenty of systemic issues for the Bucks that contributed to those gaudy numbers. Failed rotations and a general disdain for offensive flow all evening led to a forgettable performance on both ends. Milwaukee needs to recover some semblance of competency before taking on a Washington squad far superior to the one they faced tonight.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Giannis picked up another silly, unnecessary foul in the first quarter tonight. He hounded Dirk Nowitzki several feet beyond the arc in a play rather reminiscent of his handsy play on the perimeter in seasons past that’s made him one of the most prolific foulers in the league. He had another silly one at the opposing free throw line after a third quarter miss for his fourth foul.
- Milwaukee’s first quarter defense, particularly towards the end of the period, was porous on their backline. Thon Maker was doing a nice job stringing out the initial pick and roll by hedging hard against J.J. Barea, but too easily Barea found splits between Maker and the on-ball defender. When the ball penetrated past the initial frontline, there was no noticeable backline defender to even contest Dwight Powell at the rim. Middleton’s length looked lacking and he didn’t body up enough to keep him from diving deep into the paint for a pop-shot finish.
- Milwaukee had six turnovers alone in the first quarter, but thankfully the aged Mavericks preferred to take a more leisurely pace up the court rather than press the issue in transition.
- The Mavericks went to a Hack-a-Henson strategy partway through the second quarter after he had just missed four in a row. It turned what was already an abominable game into a performance with the aesthetic beauty of a preschool finger painting. Mercifully, Carlisle didn’t subject it to us beyond two possessions.
- Giannis was clearly fed up with Milwaukee’s offensive ineptitude in the first half and chose to place the team upon his rippled shoulders to start the second. He legitimately forced his way to the basket at will and got a few circus shots to fall against Kleber and company. His isolation scoring has improved considerably with him reaching the tin whenever he pleases, a necessary trait for when Milwaukee looks as lost as they were this evening.
- Milwaukee cut Dallas’ lead to just nine, 54-63, halfway through the third, only to have Dallas answer with three straight triples. Matthews final sinker was a leaner from the right hand corner that somehow rattled in. The sequence eliminated a significant amount of Milwaukee’s momentum, even when Giannis nailed a triple immediately after. They couldn’t recover from that deficit, and the rest of the evening may as well have been a funeral procession.
- Jason Kidd subbed in Jason Terry towards the end of the game to give him a nice round of applause from the Dallas crowd. They were teammates together on the Dallas championship team, and Terry’s bucket led to a standing ovation from the Mavericks. A classy move on both accounts.