The Milwaukee Bucks played sloppy, lazy, and disinterested basketball in their 131-126 loss on the road to the New Orleans Pelicans. Do not let the score fool you, this game was never close, unless you count the opening minutes from the first quarter. The Bucks trailed by 20 or more throughout the contest but did make a third-quarter run to narrow the deficit to nine. Hope was short-lived.
What We Learned
You knew Eric Bledsoe would get up for this game against his former team. We have seen it when he was on the Bucks, Bledsoe does typically shoot the ball well from deep in the early part of the season. However, making seven three-pointers is a bit excessive and will likely not happen again this season. Never the less, Eric was aggressive in the early going and got his night started with a running floater in the paint over Giannis Antetokounmpo. I don’t think any of his made shots grazed the rim.
Furthermore, Torrey Craig crashed back down to earth last night. He played five minutes and finished minus-10. His short stint was marred by errors like over-helping on Zion Williamson drives to the basket, knocking an offensive rebound out of Bobby Portis’ hands, and driving to the basket with nowhere to go.
The Milwaukee Bucks effort was laughable, especially for a “contender.” The frustration began early with the Bucks seemingly doing nothing offensively. There was minimal off-ball movement, screens being set, and errant passes being thrown. The Pelicans are not a good basketball team, but that gives the Bucks no right to play entitled like they did. Milwaukee’s offense has been a well-oiled machine this year so to see them electing to play hero ball in the first half made no sense. Defensively, things were turbulent throughout. Look, I get it, Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe made 14 three-pointers combined. However, the majority of those looks were uncontested. My breaking point was the first two defensive possessions after halftime where the Bucks ignored a wide-open Ball in the corner who promptly drained both of those attempts. Odds are, if you leave an NBA player WIDE-OPEN, he will sink the shot. I am afraid this was NOT an outlier game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo attempted to take over in the second half, but the damage was already done and it was too late. It was a weird game from the onset for the Greek Freak as he had Steven Adams defending him but elected not to take him to the basket. I thought Giannis played way too timid and made some unnecessary, poorly timed passes. When Giannis did get to the rim though, New Orleans had no resistance. While he did finish with 38 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocked shots there were some missed opportunities left on the board. I would have liked to see Giannis be aggressive earlier in the game, especially with the Pels taking control. The most frustrating play was in the second quarter where he made a lazy pass from half-court that was picked off by Nickeil Alexander-Walker who cruised for an easy deuce. Maybe I am being too harsh on him?
The MVP turned it up:— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 30, 2021
38 PTS | 11 REB | 5 AST | 2 BLK | 2 STL pic.twitter.com/Ylw8wpK170
Khris Middleton’s failure to get involved early played a huge role in Milwaukee burying themselves a huge hole. I thought Middleton, like Giannis, could have been more aggressive with his opportunities but the lack of plays being run for him was astonishing low. It took what seemed like forever for Middleton to get in the point column and he was never in a rhythm offensively. He scored only 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting in 36 minutes. I will give credit where credit is due because he made some tremendous plays as a facilitator in the third quarter when the Bucks made their comeback attempt. He added eight dimes while turning the ball over once. He should have an easier time getting going tonight against the Hornets.
- Brook Lopez was okay offensively scoring 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting. I also thought he was solid defensively when tasked at confronting Zion in the paint.
- Donte DiVincenzo added 10 points in 24 minutes. His three-point shooting has cratered recently but he did convert on 2-of-3 attempts from beyond the arch.
- Jrue Holiday did score 22 points in 38 minutes but could not buy a bucket for three quarters. I loved the way he was operating but he just couldn’t convert on his open looks early. He did have a nice lefty finish on a drive to the basket in the first quarter, though.
- The Bucks over-helped defensively on Zion Williamson WAY too much for my liking. Yes, he is a bull in the paint but you have Brook Lopez as the last line of defense. No need to send a double-team when he is spinning into a fadeaway runner.
- The notoriously horrible three-point shooting Pelicans made 21 threes...Milwaukee’s last two opponents have combined to make 43 triples. Not good.