You knew it was coming. I knew it was coming. Heck, your mom knew it was coming. In Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs the Orlando Magic unleashed the “build a wall” defense against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks that was made famous by the Toronto Raptors in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Yet, here we are 15 months later and the Bucks don’t look any closer to solving it.
Milwaukee’s offense finished seventh in the NBA with a rating of 111.9, but were only able to average 104.8 points per 100 possessions in this contest. Considering the Magic’s lack of rim-protecting bigs and adequate defenders, that’s a disappointing development to say the least. Coming into the series, most analysts expected the Bucks’ offense to right the ship after its bubble woes and pound Orlando’s depleted defense.
Orlando prioritized protecting the rim all year long, ranking third in the NBA by only allowing 32 percent of their opponents shots to come within four feet of the basket according to Cleaning the Glass. Without the likes of Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba, Milwaukee didn’t have that much trouble getting to the hoop, but they weren’t very good once they got there—scoring only 57.6 percent of the time.
Time after time, Orlando showed Antetokounmpo two, three or even four defenders in an attempt to dissuade him from attacking the rim and persuade him to pass the rock to his open teammates. And despite scoring a team-high 31 points, Antetokounmpo had a long, frustrating opening game against the Magic.
As a microcosm of Milwaukee’s offensive woes in Game 1, let’s take a deep look in the video above at a sequence of plays early in the fourth quarter featuring the Bucks’ most prominent offensive players. At the time, they only trailed by seven.