Where We’re At
If you’re not on Twitter, good for you. If you are on Twitter, then you’ve seen it...
Yes, Bucks Twitter is at it again. With the team in the middle of a lengthy losing streak, fans are eager to find a scapegoat, and the most popular scapegoat is Mike Budenholzer.
To be fair, the product on the floor over the past week has been difficult to stomach. After five consecutive double-digit wins, Milwaukee has lost their last five by an average of 9.0 points, with only the Phoenix Suns game being considered actually close. The offense has struggled to maintain momentum, the defense has short-circuited, and the overall level of #EnergyAndEffort has appeared...lacking. It is unlikely that Bucks general manager Jon Horst takes any drastic action in the middle of an unprecedented season, where fans have only recently been allowed to return to Fiserv Forum and the schedule makes dedicated practice time scarce.
It may be that tonight’s opponent, the Oklahoma City Thunder, are a cure to what ails the Bucks. Statistically, the Thunder are one of the worst offenses in the league, although they did best the Bucks...five days ago?! Not much has changed for the Thunder, who are still without Trevor Ariza (personal) and George Hill (thumb), and their win over Milwaukee is their only victory in the past six games.
Player To Watch: Khris Middleton
“We gotta put him in better spots. As coaches, we gotta give him more space, more opportunity, better outlets.” - Budenholzer on how the Bucks can execute better when Middleton gets doubled— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) February 19, 2021
Like he did vs. the Raptors for 2 games.
More at @TheAthletic: https://t.co/dhZGvRSY1K
Here’s hoping Khris got a decent night’s rest and wasn’t plagued by nightmares of Norm Powell and Fred VanVleet double-teaming him. Middleton has been on an All-Star trajectory this season until starting to slump recently, and the recent two-game set against Toronto had him looking shook. Eric Nehm breaks down how they did it:
Because of his success and ability, the Bucks offense hunts out those opportunities. Specifically, they include Middleton in off-ball screening actions or pick-and-rolls to encourage teams to switch in order to avoid giving up an easy look.
Against the Raptors on Tuesday, the Bucks ran their offense and created those situations like they always do. Instead of letting Middleton work against their defenders in isolation, though, the Raptors sent double teams from all over the floor and flustered Middleton.
Middleton is usually a steady player and a heady passer, so seeing him struggle so much was as surprising as it was frustrating. I’m sure the Thunder don’t have anyone who can...
Lu Dort's defense on LeBron was incredible pic.twitter.com/jExLIUsoSn— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 11, 2021
Game 30: Against the Thunder, Milwaukee will...
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