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Milwaukee vs. Boston: Bucks’ Rally Comes Up Short

Missed free throws and missed opportunities doom the Bucks in Boston.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks made a furious rally late in the 4th quarter against the Boston Celtics, but their efforts ultimately fell short in a tough 117-113 loss at the TD Garden. It took a while, but the Bucks finally lost their first game of the season :( Here are three Bucks who stood out in the defeat.

Donte DiVincenzo, the energizer bunny.

The athletic rookie guard was a HUGE bright spot off the bench for the Milwaukee Bucks last night. He only finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds, but he finished a game-high plus-16. In 24 minutes of play, Donte was flying all over the court both offensively and defensively. He had a strong finish on a 2-on-1 fast break that resulted in an and-one, and he even locked up star point guard Kyrie Irving on a few possessions. The kid is instant energy off the bench, and head coach Mike Budenholzer has not been shy about throwing him into the fire. The Milwaukee Bucks have to love what they’ve been seeing so far from the former 17th overall pick.

Not a great night for people named Eric Bledsoe.

Milwaukee’s starting point guard looked to erase the memories from last years postseason debacle, but unfortunately, he got cooked by Kyrie Irving last night. Irving dropped 28 points, canned 6-12 threes and was simply getting whatever he wanted against Bledsoe. Offensively, Bledsoe’s night was forgetful, to say the least. He finished with 13 points on 3-9 shooting in 33 minutes of play, he was also a team worst minus-12. However, he did have 7 assists to only 2 turnovers, but this was a game where the Bucks needed him to step up offensively and hit some shots. Luckily for him, there will be a couple more opportunities for revenge against the Celtics.

Another up and down night for Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Although the Greek Freak finished with 33 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals in 36 minutes he still missed some looks that he usually capitalizes on. The Boston Celtics did a wonderful job at forming a wall in the paint and limiting Giannis’ ability to drive and kick it to shooters. C’s big man Al Horford is the “Giannis stopper.” Horford has done an excellent job at defending Giannis without fouling and that trend continued tonight. Is Horford his kryptonite? Even more frustrating is the fact that he still continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate, and he led the Bucks with 4 turnovers against the Celtics. His stat line may look nice, but he has not been as efficient as we have been accustomed to. He did, however, put Gordon Hayward in a spin cycle early in the game. That was nice at least.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Bucks’ center Brook Lopez was a disappointing no-show in this one. He finished with 2 points and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes while constantly losing track of Al Horford in pick and roll coverage. He kept sinking which would let Horford flare out to the top of the key all by himself for essentially warm up jumpers. Lopez got exposed last night, and if these two teams find themselves playing one another come playoff time, is he the guy you want starting?
  • Milwaukee’s “defense” on the perimeter was invisible against the Celtics. The C’s hit a franchise-record 24 three-pointers, and a bevy of those were open looks. Boston completely exploited Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks in the pick and roll. Milwaukee elected to have their defenders sink into the paint which resulted in a ton of wide-open three-pointers for the Celtics above the break. This was a constant theme throughout the night, and this was the first time we saw Budenholzer fail to adjust their defensive game plan. The Celtics hit 24 shots from three and the Bucks only lost by 4. This somewhat feels like a win within itself.
  • Each member of the Milwaukee Bucks starting lineup finished with a negative plus-minus, that will simply not get it done. Khris Middleton came into this game white-hot, but cooled off considerably with 16 points on 6-18 shooting. He failed to find a rhythm against the Celtics, and it would’ve been nice for the Bucks to get him going early. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.
  • I am going to have nightmares about the Bucks going 22-30 from the foul line. With a chance to tie the game in the closing minutes, Eric Bledsoe stepped up to the line and split a pair of free throws. That pretty much summarized the night for the Bucks. Bledsoe was 6-9 from the line and Giannis was 7-11. The Bucks need their go-to guys to hit their free throws, and there’s a good chance the Bucks would’ve escaped with a victory if they would have done so. Ugh.