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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Charlotte Hornets: Bucks Hang on Against Hornets

We want ‘Bama!

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball is back! The Milwaukee Bucks built a 20-point lead early, but the pesky Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker made life difficult for the Bucks in the 4th quarter. Ultimately, the Bucks would survive for a 113-112 victory in their first regular season contest during the Budenholzer era. Here are three things that stood out from Wednesday’s nail-biting victory.

*Homer Simpson voice* Mmm, three’s

From the onset, the Milwaukee Bucks offensive strategy was very clear. Launch three-pointers. The Bucks as a team converted on 14-34 3-pointers (41.2%) which is very respectable. The Bucks had 4 players (Middleton, Lopez, Bledsoe, Brogdon) attempt 5+ three’s against the Hornets on Wednesday night. We saw it in the preseason, and it clearly was not a mirage, especially when you take a glance at their shot chart.

With how defenses are going to play the Bucks, expect to see a ton more corner 3-pointers attempted. Giannis did a great job at penetrating the Hornets defense, and kicking it out to the open shooter in the corner. The Milwaukee Bucks also attempted the majority of their three’s above the break early in the shot clock. They had numerous good looks from downtown against the Hornet’s defense. Furthermore, the Bucks had 5 players hit 2+ trifectas on Wednesday. This shot chart looks almost identical to a shot chart from the Houston Rockets.

Sloppy play down the stretch

The Milwaukee Bucks committed 21 turnovers against the Hornets which aided their furious comeback in the 4th quarter. A handful of these turnovers were unforced errors that could’ve been avoided. When James Borrego switched to a small unit for Charlotte it really flummoxed Milwaukee offensively, especially Giannis Antetokounmpo who finished with 8 turnovers.

The Bucks really swung the ball around in the preseason, but the ball looked like it was moving around a bit slower in their season opener. The Bucks did a lot of things well, like racking up 26 assists, but once those 3-pointers started to miss it rattled them just a bit. As a whole, the Bucks starting five committed 18 of those 21 turnovers. However, Milwaukee’s transition defense was rock solid as the Hornets only scored 11 fast break points.

Luckily, the Bucks were able to escape with a narrow victory, but you won’t win many games giving up the ball 21 times.

Milwaukee’s starting unit is a problem

Even when Giannis Antetokounmpo is having an “off” night, he still puts up crooked stat lines. He finished with 25 points, 18 rebounds and 8 assists in 34 minutes of action. He was forcing things offensively most of the night, which resulted in him getting into early foul trouble and disrupting his rhythm. He shot an uncharacteristic 9-21 from the floor, but he was mauled on multiple trips to the basket with no foul call. When he did make it to the line, he made only 7-12 attempts. Quick, someone make sure Frank Madden is OK.

Even with 8 turnovers and missing shots he usually makes, he still finished a team-high plus-11. Look out below!

Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe was efficient against the Hornets, scoring 17 points on 7-13 shots and converting on 3-5 tries from deep. Coming into this season, Bledsoe’s 3-point shot was going to be a big factor in how well Milwaukee does this year. Although he did press the issue offensively down the stretch for the Bucks, it was still a serviceable first performance in coach Mike Budenholzer’s system. He did manage only 3 assists, but that will not be the case most nights.

Stat sheet-stuffer Khris Middleton had another great day at the office against Charlotte. He racked up 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block in 33 minutes. The “Tough Shot Express” was all systems go in the fourth quarter as he hit an array of jump shots to keep their heads above the water. Overall, he hit 7-14 shots from the floor and 3-6 from deep. The advanced stat darling is well on his way to his first All Star appearance.

Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez also played roles in Milwaukee building an early 20-point lead. The two combined to score 24 points while each connecting on two three-pointers to help stretch the floor for the Bucks. More notably, Brogdon actually led the Bucks in minutes played with 38. To say coach Bud trusts him is an understatement. As a whole, Milwaukee’s starting five scored 85 of their 113 points.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Bucks rookie Donte DiVincenzo played the second most minutes off the bench with 22. All things considered, this was a solid debut from the rookie. He connected on 3-6 shots and 2-4 three’s for 8 points. What I really liked about his game is how aggressive he was, always ready to shoot off a catch. He had a nice driving layup on a fast break, but proceeded to get stuffed on the next try. Welcome to the association, young fella.
  • Ersan is back. In 29 minutes the Turkish Thunder chipped in 13 points and 9 rebounds on 6-9 shooting before fouling out. In typical Ers fashion, he even drew a few charges!