The Milwaukee Bucks lost handily to the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-89, but the more important takeaway was Malcolm Brogdon being helped off the court after suffering a left quad tendon strain in the second quarter.
Malcolm Brogdon being helped off court after coming up hobbling when he dunked on a fast break. He was grimacing and looked like his left leg was issue. He barely made it up to dunk the ball so perhaps the injury occurred on his way up rather than when he landed.— Craig Coshun (@CraigCoshun) February 2, 2018
As for the game, Milwaukee sported some ugly offense in the opening quarter, shooting just 38.9% from the field with five turnovers and trailing 23-17. Unfortunately, the bloodletting only got worse in the second quarter, when Minnesota bludgeoned Milwaukee’s defense to stake a 60-39 lead at halftime. Eight turnovers, 11 personal fouls (compared to four for Minnesota) and general poor shooting doomed Milwaukee’s quiet first half. Milwaukee looked disinterested for stretches of the third quarter, but did manage to get the score within a dozen before the Wolves pulled ahead again to lead 79-61 after one. Joe Prunty tried to keep his starters in to make a late run in the fourth, but he finally waved the white flag with around four minutes to go and the Bucks down 21. At least we’ll always have the four game undefeated dead cat bounce period.
Three Main Observations
Brogdon Goes Down
Malcolm Brogdon went to the ground after a breakaway dunk in the second quarter with what was reported as a left quad tendon strain. As most of us know, on court injuries are often diagnosed as strains (just as Jabari’s ACL tears were), but speculation seems silly until we have the complete set of facts. It wasn’t quite clear on the telecast what happened, but he was able to stand immediately after landing on his feet before coming up lame and sitting down and grasping one of his legs. The non-contact injury resulted in him heading straight to the locker room and being helped off the court by his teammates. Milwaukee will need Bledsoe more than ever with Brogdon out, but Bledsoe’s own injury issues will assuredly have Milwaukee being somewhat cautious with their recently acquired asset. As for Brogdon, we can only hope for the best and remember that the excitement we felt about Jabari Parker returning was absolutely going to be contrasted by something horrible happening. Classic Bucks.
Last year, Jabari got hurt the same game Khris came back. Now this. So... pic.twitter.com/gobXg9OVz0— Eric Buenning (@ericbuenning) February 2, 2018
Milwaukee’s offense was truly horrendous in the first half tonight. They shot just 36.6% on the half, their 83.2 offensive rating was abysmal, Tony Snell was 0-5, Thon Maker was 1-6 and Khris Middleton had attempted three more shots than Giannis on the half. Giannis was getting headed off by Jimmy Butler almost anytime he tried to penetrate into the paint, rarely getting the usual separation he finds besides one brief drive to his left after lulling Butler to sleep. The defense wasn’t any better either, with Minnesota getting to the foul line nine more times than the Bucks and taking advantage in the paint with a 30-18 lead in that category. Unfortunately, the offensive malaise only furthered in the second half, as Giannis struggled to get anything going and Middleton suffered a poor shooting night going just 7-20 from the field.
A Frustrated Giannis
Not only did Giannis look more passive tonight than in any game since Prunty’s taken over, but his spouts of aggressiveness often only led to more frustration for the Bucks’ star. Jimmy Butler gave him fits as he tried to probe the interior, often times settling for either a difficult turnaround elbow jumper or forgoing further attempts in favor of kicking it out to the perimeter. Milwaukee found some open shots out of that, but those closed up as the game went on and the Bucks were never able to hit them consistently early. Giannis also had several offensive fouls or near fouls in a performance akin to some of the difficulties often present in his first few years in the league. Milwaukee’s been riding Giannis’ brilliance through most of these wins. Without it, they didn’t stand a chance this evening. He ended with just 17 points tonight, tied for his second-lowest total for the season.
Of course, Giannis also ended up playing late into the fourth quarter and may have suffered an injury of his own...
Giannis Antetokounmpo said he twisted his left ankle pretty badly in the fourth quarter. He’s having trouble putting weight on it and said he’s walking with a limp. He’ll have to see how he’s feeling tomorrow. Hits keep coming for the Bucks.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) February 2, 2018
Bonus Bucks Bits
Eric Bledsoe missed tonight’s game with the same ankle soreness that limited him to just three minutes of play on Monday. I’m curious how conservative they’ll be with him leading up to the All-Star break, especially in light of Brogdon’s injury and whatever Giannis might have going on.
Joe Prunty says Eric Bledsoe (left ankle) is out for tonight.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) February 1, 2018
If we needed any more confirmation of Sterling Brown’s play becoming full blown badass, one need only look at his first quarter domination of Andrew Wiggins (who is just 13 days younger than Brown by the way) as Wiggins feebly tried to post him up. Brown manhandled him before poking the ball free and following Giannis on the break to throw down this slama jama. Oh, and his ensuing smack talk seeming directed at Jimmy Butler netted him a tech.
Fast break SLAM!! pic.twitter.com/e3MQ7MXDxz— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 2, 2018
Thon Maker had perhaps the most infamous Maker mixtape move I’ve seen from him in his Bucks career tonight, taking Gorgui Dieng off the dribble with a crossover stepback jumper from the elbow. Unfortunately it missed, but outside of Summer League his NBA handles have essentially been nonexistent.
Giannis played the entire first quarter tonight in Bledsoe’s absence, a deviation from Prunty’s recent rotation where he seems to pull Giannis fairly early on.
Xavier Munford got his first taste of big league action with the Bucks tonight once Brogdon went out and with Jason Terry gone for a personal reason. It was a mixed bag, starting with forgoing a corner three for a nifty pull-up, grabbing a steal and then botching an entry pass to Giannis who had his man fronting him and a clear path to the basket behind him. He was subbed out shortly after that.
You could tell things weren’t gonna go Milwaukee’s way tonight when Middleton had a steal and was running with Giannis in transition but rather than toss the ball ahead of him he tried a bounce pass that rolled out of bounds. Thankfully Midds made up for it a few possessions later when a helter-skelter scramble for the ball resulted in an alley-oop to Giannis in transition.
Bill Belicheck was in the audience taking in tonight’s game. Nothing much beyond that, but it felt really strange to not only see the hoodied figure taking in a Bucks game, but also wearing a dapper suit.
Sean Kilpatrick, aka the man most vocal with his excitement for Kidd’s departure, had a nice little run in the third quarter tonight. A dribble drive ended in a contorted finish at the rim and he showed no hesitation dropping in a deep 3-pointer off a Giannis feed. It got the Bucks to within 12, but the Wolves responded with a 6-0 run to shut that down.
My Henson pass du jour:
Giannis +1 pic.twitter.com/kAUTu7XQJD— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 2, 2018
For my D.J. Wilson heads, he did manage to score five points tonight on a putback and wide-open corner three.