Despite both teams being within spitting distance for a majority of the game, it was a sleepy affair at the Fiserv Forum. The ball brought more energy than either time, and exuberantly and spookily flew out of bounds and bounced every which way. Ultimately, one team was able to put said ball in the basket slightly more often, and that team was not the Bucks. San Antonio escaped Milwaukee with a 102-93 victory.
For the Bucks, the first quarter featured drive after drive to the rim, only for the Spurs to poke it out of their hands, easy lay-ins to be missed, or the ball to just disappear. Coupled with an inability to hit threes, the deficit oscillated between low single digits for the majority of the quarter (and the entire game, for that matter). Derrick White hit all three of his made threes, and San Antonio’s press, although it didn’t immediately pay off, may have affected Milwaukee’s sloppiness with the ball the rest of the way.
Down 27-24 after one, both teams turned it down a notch going in the second. Turnovers, steals, travels, and more miscellaneous fouls prevented either team from getting a rhythm, coupled with the Bucks’ continued woes at the rim and behind the arc. Yet, the ball bounced its way into a few highlight transition plays for Milwaukee and San Antonio didn’t reveal any indication of wanting to win this game, leading to a largely appropriate 47-45 tally at the break.
The Bucks had their best run of form to start the second half, flirting with high single-digit leads on the strength of offensive rebounds, relatively more good than bad from role players, and Giannis. However, it would prove to be the latter that was most influential; when Giannis picked up his fourth and went to the bench, the lead shriveled away. In a sequence that captured the vibe of the game, Pat Connaughton blocked a Bryn Forbes three, only for Bryn to recover the ball and make a two. That two proved to be the difference, as the Spurs were up 69-67 going into the final frame.
San Antonio, under the strength of Dejounte Murray, was able to gradually pull away in the fourth, to the tune of clutch drives and threes as well as tired turnovers. Milwaukee was able to keep the lead in check for most of the quarter until two threes with a few minutes left brought the lead to double digits. The game ended with a blissful 48 seconds of the Mamu, the Myth, the Legend.
What Did We Learn?
With (mostly foot-adjacent) injuries to nearly every Buck, these games continue to be a valuable audition for playoff bench pieces. No one looked the part on Saturday night. Rodney Hood splashed home some triples but missed an easy lay-in and provided a horrific entry pass to Giannis. George Hill got UP for an oop but missed easy lay-ins and simply lost the ball on numerous occasions. Jordan Nwora made box-score plays on defense but in general is a work in progress on that end of the floor (to go along with a Semi-esque 0-5 from three). I can’t even come up with good takeaways from Semi Ojeleye. Whether these players become a regular part of the regular season and then playoff rotation (...or are traded) is one of the (only) reasons these games matter, and through that lens last night was disappointing.
Giannis did not have his best day at the office.
Giannis struggled from the stripe (6/11) and downtown (0/3), spilled seven (often lazy) turnovers, and got in foul trouble when the Bucks were starting to piece together a lead. His three assists were not ideal, but can be blamed on his teammates not cashing in. In general, the two-day rest seemed to stymie both Giannis and his teammates on both ends of the floor. Hopefully they can bounce back against the Jazz (gulp) on the SEGABABA.
Pat is driving and gRay is not?
Pat Connaughton put up (and missed) two threes and drove for three (out of four) lay-ups, while gRay Allen threw the kitchen sink of nine threes (four made) to go along with two misses inside the arc - including an outrageous out-of-your-seat dunk attempt that was ultimately fruitless. In an ideal world, I think I’m more comfortable with the reverse. I’ll be curious to watch this going forward.
Thanasis started. Oof.
I love Thanasis. I understand that Milwaukee is plagued with injuries. But - hot take - Thanasis is not a starting-caliber NBA player. His benefit is the energy that he can bring a couple times a game, either to get the crowd going, pair for a dunk with his lil bro, or to inject life into the game. There weren’t many other places to distribute his 18 minutes (cough cough Mamu cough), but last night was a game where his energy to close out a quarter would have been much appreciated.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Old Friend Bryn Forbes received his championship ring in a pre-game ceremony and was warmly embraced by Giannis and Khris <3.
Bryn reunites with his fellow Champs. pic.twitter.com/d6oFl6h3NL— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 31, 2021
- Brook Lopez was rocking a Babar Tennis t-shirt on the bench. His presence on the court was sorely missed (pun intended).
- Giannis’ shoes gave me Hubba Bubba vibes.
- Semi Ojeleye has not scored as a Milwaukee Buck. Has. Not. Scored.
- Kudos to Gregg Popovich for not jumping ship when the cupboard is increasingly bare. I’m hoping he can coach the current guys to a level he is comfortable with before having Becky Hammon take over.
- I mean, if Mamu is on the bench and Thanasis is getting 18 minutes... C’mon Bud.