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Milwaukee vs. Washington: Wizards Slam the Door on the Bucks, 99-88

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Milwaukee sleepwalks through another game with a low-energy effort

It was another game in which the Bucks saw themselves going through the motions with the energy level at zero, as the Washington Wizards came into the Bradley Center and snatched a 99-88 victory.

An ugly see-saw of events started the evening off, with both teams committing mistakes left and right. The Bucks would slip off at one point, as the unique lineup consisting of Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Liggins, and Gary Payton II allowed Washington to briefly move ahead. Milwaukee would return its regulars eventually to return to form and so would the score at half, as the Wizards headed into the locker rooms with just a single point advantage at 47-46.

The third quarter saw Antetokounmpo go just 2-of-6 from the floor, which didn’t inflict too much pressure on the Washington defense. It would allow them to boost their lead to seven points heading into the final period. That final period would start off as the same lifeless, immobile and boring Bucks we saw the other night in Dallas. They couldn’t buy any buckets, and for Washington, it was a flea market. And-one after and-one fueled the Washington offense, as they kept getting more and more aggressive in their paths to the basket.

Things kept going south from there, and the Bucks were unable to land any worthwhile punches on their opponents.

Three Observations

The Bucks need to slow down.

Countless times, the Bucks were granted the opportunity to score the basketball via the fast break, but were unable to get the job done. It didn’t matter who it was — Giannis, Bledsoe, Middleton, whoever — everyone seemed to be going 800 MPH down the floor with their arms and legs flailing like an inflatable noodle outside a car sale. By just slowing down on any one of those, Milwaukee surely would’ve been able to notch a few more baskets and who knows what pages they may have turned in cutting the deficit.

Eric Bledsoe hasn’t been great from downtown. In fact, he hasn’t been good.

It was another game in which Eric Bledsoe only hit a single 3-pointer from deep, and it’s a little surprising that he even hit that one. His 3-point numbers haven’t been trending that far north of the 12 percent mark since his time with the Bucks, and with a few more performances like this, it’ll dip into single digits. In his postgame comments with the media, he mentioned how he just needed to keep on shooting and shots will begin to fall. Bucks fans will cross their fingers and say a prayer that that’s the case, as the Bucks lose a major weapon whenever those threes don’t fall.

The 3-point shooting performance tonight was putrid.

It wasn’t just Bledsoe who failed to carry the team from deep tonight. As a team, the Bucks went 4-of-22 from beyond the arc, which is enough for anybody to grab a paper bag. It wasn’t as if the Wizards were playing lockdown defense either. Milwaukee would get plenty of open shots. However, they were just unable to convert them. We’ll take a deep breath and label it as just an off night. I mean, that’s all we can really do as fans. It’s a long NBA season with 82 games, so we just have to hope this was a fluke. Because really, the Bucks couldn’t have hit the broad side of a barn with any one of those shots.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • It really seems as if Giannis has expanded his arsenal to deepen his and-one skills. Antetokounmpo took it to the rack twice early on in the first quarter, both times exhibiting an insane amount of sheer force. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to finish with the ease he did in the first quarter, but I think this skill is still something to look for. While he only had 23 points, it seems as if he’s found a new part of his game with this offensive mindset.
  • Joe Prunty used a very odd lineup in the first half, as Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Liggins, and Gary Payton II. This seemed to put the Bucks in a log jam of being unable to do anything sufficient on the offensive end, and it was alarming to see how long Prunty kept with them. We’ve never seen this lineup with Jason Kidd on the sidelines, so maybe this is just a Joe Prunty thing, but man, this was a head-scratching decision.
  • It’s safe to say that Prunty likes what he sees in Gary Payton II. The G-League two-way player nearly racked up more minutes than Malcolm Brogdon, as he ended up with 15 compared to Brogdon’s 18. He put forth eight points with some strong defensive possessions at times, but it seemed as if the Bucks offense was stalling with him out there instead of Brogdon. It was another off-night for Brogdon, as he failed to score a single point. Who knows, maybe the decision was as simple as Prunty believing Brogdon was having an inefficient performance.
  • The Wizards did a pretty efficient job of operating with two of their main stars (John Wall and Bradley Beal) off of the court. As we all know, this is something the Bucks have a tough time accomplishing (when Giannis is off the floor). It didn’t make things too much better that when they were on the court, that same success was reached. Given that Giannis has nearly played consecutive games of racking up 40 minutes, this will be something to watch for on the upcoming west coast trip, as it could end up being the big hit or miss for the Bucks.