The Milwaukee Bucks came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and enjoyed a brief double-digit lead. The key word there being “brief” because the Charlotte Hornets cooked the Bucks from three-point range en route to handing the Bucks their second consecutive loss, 126-114.
What We Learned
The Milwaukee Bucks while capable, are not a good team at switching defensively. As it stands, they have one player who can switch effectively and that is Jrue Holiday. As for the rest of the team, they were like a deer in headlights defensively last night. Countless shooters left open and missed assignments allowed Charlotte to get whatever they wanted.
The Bucks certainly do not benefit from having massive roster turnover and trying to implement a defensive change on the go. However, while it is a valid reason, this has been Milwaukee’s Achilles heel since coach Budenholzer took over. 64 three-pointers is how many the Bucks have surrendered the last three games. Not great!
Jrue Holiday was on fire early but cooled off down the stretch. He played a big role in propelling the Bucks to an early lead by hitting multiple three-pointers and knifing his way to the basket. It has been somewhat of a struggle for Jrue offensively the last few games but to see him not lose confidence and keep firing away is a plus. He finished plus-16 in a 12-point loss and he looked like the only Bucks who had a clue what was going on defensively out there. Holiday has carried his weight thus far, regardless of his struggles. His tenacity defensively had yet to be matched by any of his teammates and I am sure that is a disappointing feeling. He should be the least of your worries. He ended the loss contributing in every category with 21 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocked shots.
Khris Middleton having nine shot attempts is unacceptable. Charlotte put the clamps on him in the second half and down the stretch by denying him the ball and making him catch passes in uncomfortable situations. However, like the loss to the Pelicans, Middleton was not involved much early. I find this to be odd because Milwaukee typically elects to get him going first offensively at the start of each contest. He did score 18 points in 32 minutes, but there is no reason for him not to have at least 15 shots per night. He and Jrue were the only members of the starting five to register a positive plus-minus.
Aside from Pat Connaugthon, Milwaukee’s bench stunk up the joint. That is putting it lightly, imo. Pat did contribute 15 points on five makes from deep but everyone else combined to score 17 points. Only three players scored off the bench and a total of 12 players saw the floor...that’s unacceptable. Bryn Forbes was a minus-31 in 11 minutes. An impressive disaster. However, I would like to see him inserted into lineups that include a few of the starters. There is no question Bryn can be an effective player for the Bucks, but it’s all about putting him in a position to succeed. So D.J. Augustin signs with Milwaukee and all of a sudden forgot how to play basketball? I mean minus-21 in four minutes is not good! Bobby Portis did add 11 points while making all five of his shots and he has shown us that he is going to bring it every night.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 34/18/9 in 39 minutes while making 12-of-19 shots from the field. The Hornets couldn’t stop him but it also felt like Giannis could have done more in his minutes on the floor. However, with how poorly everyone else played, it is hard to pin the loss on him.
- Donte DiVincenzo hit rock bottom last night. Zero points in 27 minutes while getting cooked defensively. A very Tony Snell-esque stat line.
- Lamelo Ball is a STAR. Can we get him out of Charlotte, please? He is one of the best passers in the NBA and is so fun to watch...just an electric player. He scored 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting while dishing out nine dimes and committing only one turnover. He isn’t starting, for some reason.
- Gordon Hayward provided the Hornets with a big spark, scoring 27 points and making five triples.