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Bucks Back On Track? Regaining Control of the Series...and the Narrative

Milwaukee resembles themselves why don’t we feel better?

NBA: Playoffs-Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

In one of their worst performances in recent memory, the Milwaukee Bucks dropped Game 1 of their first round series against the Orlando Magic. Despite the equally-disheartening defeat with the league’s other top-seeded team, the alarm had been raised and panic spread through the fanbase like cream poured into a mug of strong black coffee.

In a return to expected results, the Bucks won big in Game 2, just as the pregame poll predicted. The defense looked revitalized, and the offense seemed to be moving with purpose again. But if you look through the comments without checking the score, you would be forgiven for assuming the Bucks were looking at climbing out of an 0-2 hole.

stoneAge says:

Khris has been abysmal.

I don’t know what kind of training they did during these 5 days off. Doesn’t look like it benefited them. Both have no legs.

Remember at some point yesterday, Khris bringing the ball down and Giannis was walking way behind him. Khris had to signal to Giannis to get past him (because Giannis was delaying the offense!!!!) and join the others in the halfcourt. Never seen this before in a regualr season game and surely I didn’t expected a playoff game to be the first time I see this.

1312WeTookThe3rd says:

Yeah I mean buds inaction with the refs

And refusal to protect Giannis is going to cost us though, he’s maybe even further cemented his need to be replaced. Can’t have that if timid nature terrified of conflict persona leading this team.

DKscherer says:

Busy day. So I watched this one delayed.

Back to what? This was about effort, anything less would have been absolutely mind-boggling.

There is still plenty to be concerned about. Turnovers, turnovers and free-throw shooting to name a few. Fact is, this is a #8 seed missing players. We should beat them on our worst night in playoff games. This game was just what we should do and nothing more.

There are a number of good teams, Orlando is not one, and we have a very rough road ahead. If we don’t figure out how to take care of the ball, we are in big trouble down that road.

thecreekfreak says:

Khris Middleton WTF

Khris middleton needs to wake up and quickly. If this magic team is bothering him, iguodala and butler will absolutely harass him next round he needs to stop this nonsense now.

And perhaps one of the more measured – and succinct – takes comes from OldResorter1:

not perfect

trending in the right direction though

This is just a sampling of the general sentiment on Brew Hoop, which mirrors the sentiment across Bucks Twitter. And the thing is, you’re not wrong. Fans might be satisfied that the result was more in-line with the Bucks’ standards, but by no means are fans happy with the process that got us here. And they shouldn’t be!

Let’s talk about what went right for the Bucks, where we have to look at the Magic’s shooting. Orlando averaged 32.2 three-point attempts per game during the regular season, and they launched only 33 on Thursday. So considering they’re already not a major threat to damage the Bucks from deep, seeing their three-point percentage clock in at only 0.212 in Game 2 gives the impression that they were destined to be at a disadvantage in this one. Orlando also shot a paltry 42.8% on two-pointers (24/56), which was definitely in part because of the Bucks’ revitalized defensive effort, but also...simply missing shots.

Much of the rest of the Bucks’ game was, in a word, ugly. Committing 20 turnovers (compared to 11 for Orlando) is rarely a recipe for success. Khris Middleton (2 points, 1/8 from the floor, 4 fouls and 4 turnovers) followed up a bad Game 1 with an abominable Game 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo had impressive totals (28 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists), but committed a game-high 7 turnovers and had his second consecutive game shooting below 50% from the field. Several of the Bucks’ role players (hi, Pat Connaughton!) stepped up to help stabilize things, but it was a rough outing to watch.

But in no way was Game 2 more difficult to watch than with the disparity in foul calls. Blaming the officials is never a strategy I would want to recommend, but the numbers back up the eye-test mentioned ad nauseam by Bucks fans online. The Magic “committed” 18 fouls, which is right on track with their regular season per-game average (18.3), but the Bucks got whistled for 26, which is well above their own expected mark (19.6). Furthermore, Milwaukee went to the line 16 times. Orlando nearly lapped them, taking 31 free throws.

This is the area in which Bucks fans have their biggest gripes with head coach Mike Budenholzer, since his reserved approach towards communicating with the referees give the impression of being conflict-averse. And since the infamous Jordan Rules seem to have been revived against Giannis (h/t iokouvo94 for the post), the league’s MVP may need all the support he can get as the competition gets tougher and more physical.

Then again, this criticism of Coach Bud might be unfair. We already have very little insight to the “game within the game” that happens between referees and coaches, and with the bubble keeping us (rightfully) out of the building, we’re not likely to see more. We can see over-the-top reactions and borderline temper tantrums, but we can’t hear the words being said between the two parties (and if there were a microphone placed in the right spot, the league and networks aren’t likely to broadcast them!). To hold Bud’s demeanor against him might be holding him to an unfair standard...but it’s hard not to when the barrage of uncalled fouls goes unchallenged.

The Bucks might not be back, but they’re heading in the right direction. What do you want to see in Game 3? Are there any changes in Game 2 worth carrying over, or was it truly a case of Milwaukee playing better? Let us know in the comments, and you might see yourself featured in a Brew Hoop article soon!