The Orlando Magic controlled this first contest from tip, flummoxing the Milwaukee Bucks offensively as they sputtered to an embarrassing loss behind equally sieve-like defense in an 122-110 loss. Every element of this loss should be what energizes a Bucks team that’s paid lip service to bringing energy after a lackluster seeding game performance, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until Thursday to see if they snap out of this haze.
Milwaukee came out of the game with the same lethargy they displayed during the seeding games, as Bud scrambled his lineups mid-quarter, going small as the Magic shot 63.6% in the first en route to a 33-23 lead. By halftime, Milwaukee hadn’t made any headway into Orlando’s lead, down 62-52. Following a push to put them down by merely one, the Magic battled back and gouged the Bucks to open up a 92-79 advantage to start the fourth. Despite a few different runs, the Bucks simply couldn’t overcome timely triples by the Magic and found themselves down 0-1 in their first round series.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was the lone Buck who brought his “A” game for this one, but even he wasn’t quite at the same sterling level as usual in terms of shooting. He went 12-25 from the field for 31 points, but also notched 17 rebounds and seven assists. He was the fulcrum for what little energy Milwaukee displayed in this one.
Khris Middleton went kersplat on his face for his 2020 Playoff debut, hitting only 4-12 from the field for a paltry 14 points. Brook Lopez’s hot play withered into five points. Eric Bledsoe and George Hill were the only other serviceable members of the team, each of whom outscored Middleton with 15 and 16 respectively.
Nikola Vucevic was the standout performer for the Magic, who blitzed the Bucks for 35 points and 13 rebounds, including 5-8 from deep. His ability from the arc mucked up Milwaukee’s interior defense, with Orlando’s Terrence Ross adding 18, alongside 15 each from Gary Clark and Markelle Fultz.
Stat that Stood Out
Orlando shot 13-19 (68.4%) at the rim and 8/11 (72.7%) from between 4-14 feet. During the year, the Bucks allowed opponents to shoot just 55.1% and 36.7% from those areas respectively in the regular season. I know the volume is small, but if the Bucks defense isn’t even walling off the paint against a team that isn’t exactly equipped to punish you down there, then your scheme has failed you, at least for this game.
Compound that with the fact Milwaukee shot just 57.6% (19/33) at the rim, nearly 10 percentage points below their season average, and we’re left with a squad that underperformed against a team with little to no rim protection.