With only a few games remaining before the postseason, and each one impacting the team’s playoff seeding, the Milwaukee Bucks lost in disappointing fashion to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, 119-111. It’s not the most encouraging sign, for Milwaukee to struggle so much against a bottom-rung team with nothing to play for like the Nets, but that’s just where we’re at this season.
The Bucks entered their penultimate home game of the regular season tied at 42-36 with the Washington Wizards, and merely 0.5 games back of the 6th seeded Miami Heat (who are 43-36). With the defeat this evening but a trio of winnable games remaining on the schedule (away against the New York Knicks, the home finale against the Orlando Magic, and the very last contest on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers), fans might not be impressed with the Bucks’ destiny for the 2017-18 season, but at least the team has some measure of control over it.
Crabbe missed 3 but Allen gets the rebound. FTs for the Nets up 111-105 with 33.3 seconds left. Bucks on the inside track for the 8th seed with this dreadful performance.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) April 6, 2018
Check that, the team had some control over it, because they gave a ton of it away by dropping yet another winnable game. The Bucks struggled for much of the first half and good portions of the second, seeming to be outmatched by Brooklyn’s energy and effort. A pair of sizable runs in the third and fourth quarters seemed to shift momentum back in Milwaukee’s favor, but a 13-2 run in the final minutes of the game put Brooklyn up by too much for the Bucks to be bothered to overcome.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a particularly rough outing, working through everything the Nets threw at him on his way to 19 points (on 21 shots), 10 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals. But in keeping with tradition when the Bucks play the Nets, Giannis at least gave fans a highlight dunk with Jarrett Allen defending the rim:
Khris Middleton paced Milwaukee with 31 points (on 14 shots, including 11/11 on FTs). Eric Bledsoe, with 18 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals, did his part, and Jabari Parker came of the bench for 13 points and 10 boards, including this ludicrous basket – a dunk? I guess? – in the fourth quarter:
For Brooklyn, Allen Crabbe led the way with 25 points and 7 rebounds, and D’Angelo Russell ended up with 22 points and 5 assists. Caris LeVert put up 13 points, and Joe Harris finished the night with 17 points and 6 assists.
Stat That Stood Out
Milwaukee and Brooklyn both played true to their reputations, with the Nets holding a 39 to 20 edge on three point attempts. What’s even more jarring is that Brooklyn made 19 of their 39 threes (48.7%), very nearly matching the total number of attempts for the Bucks, who only made 5 (25.0%).
Head coach Kenny Atkinson is well-known for pushing his team’s pace and keeping the green light on, and tonight the Bucks were only too happy to oblige when the Nets’ activity on offense resulted in an open look from beyond the arc. The Bucks’ defense wasn’t exactly lethargic, but they often looked disjointed and disorganized, which certainly helped drive the Nets to seek out the three ball. They appeared content to try to outscore the Nets in the paint while letting Brooklyn bomb at will from deep, a strategy that fans are eager to see left by the wayside.