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Milwaukee vs. San Antonio: ‘Twas a Spur in the Bucks’ Boot

Ugly at the start. Ugly at the end.

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks put forth one of their season’s worst defensive efforts, losing to the San Antonio Spurs 146-125. The Bucks defense took the first period off, giving up 45 points as the Spurs posted a 60+% field goal percentage. The second didn’t bring any merrier times, as San Antonio entered halftime up 87-64. Even if they narrowed the lead slightly in the third, this one was over midway through the fourth.

What We Learned

In the fourth period, PJ Tucker and Donte DiVincenzo hounded Patty Mills. After much harassment near midcourt, Mills barely got an outlet pass to Jakob Poeltl near the top of the arc. The ball then bounced to Dejounte Murray, who promptly found himself once more locked up as he pushed his way to the paint. With a hand entirely in his face, he threw up a one-handed floater of a prayer...that promptly fell in as the shot clock wound down.

Do not get me wrong, the Bucks were horrific defensively, giving up numerous offensive boards to the undersized Keldon Johnson, blowing backside help responsibilities in the pick and roll, going under on screens against everyone and just generally unable to prevent the Spurs from finishing inside or out. But, plays like I described above also happened. Milwaukee dug its own hole, but the Basketball Gods blew up some dirt too.

Three Pointers

Yes the Bucks defense sucked, but Khris Middleton didn’t! Lots of great movement from Khris just in the first period, scoring off a screen dashing from the paint in the first, a nice curl inside the arc for a pull-up, a turnaround jumper on DeRozan in the corner. He really flashed his full array of shots in the first, and it was refreshing to see him not look over-reliant on isolation shots in the midrange. This is floofy stuff, yes, but I also appreciated seeing him put forth some maximum effort late in the third even down double digits. Not only did he stay strong on an offensive board after Bobby Portis biffed an easy lay-in, but a few possessions earlier he turned a crossover into this hammer. It should be a given, but engaged offensive Middleton for four quarters hasn’t always been.

Yes the Bucks defense sucked, but Giannis as a roll man didn’t! Several times throughout this game, we got to see a ton of wonderful two-man action between him and Jrue Holiday. There was a wonderful double drag screen in the third that ended with GIannis patrolling straight down the paint for a slam, but he also maneuvered his way through some tighter corners with pinpoint bounce passes from Holiday. He was able to calmly keep his dribble doing and finish past any walls the Spurs were able to erect. We’ve seen them grow more and more accustomed to using Giannis as a roller, and I like it as another way to get Giannis the ball when he won’t have to dribble through a sizable wall at the free throw line.

Yes, the Bucks defense sucked, but...Okay, I’m out of sugar-coated stuff for ya folks. The Bucks defense just sucked in this one, and I was glad to see Bud pull the starters after his last stand with six minutes to go or so fell flat.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • I loved seeing Giannis being aggressive with his passsing out of the double in the first period. On the left elbow, he waited just long enough to draw Poeltl over for help and Lopez cut right into the lane. A quick bounce pass turned into a Brook slam.
  • After the hot shooting start for the Spurs, Bud threw a zone defense featuring Middleton and Giannis as the top two defenders in the 2-3 formation. It didn’t work particularly well.
  • Bryn Forbes got a tribute video prior to this game tonight I guess, after just four seasons. What do you think the bare minimum should be for someone to warrant a tribute video? I guess in a small market like San Antonio, the bar may be lower. But, this also happened last night too so…
  • The 87 points Milwaukee allowed in this first half was the most they’ve given up. Ever. Yikes
  • Nice defense-offense sequence in the third when Donte DiVincenzo helped on a smart switch, got an outlet off a board and made a slick full-court pass to Holiday cherry-picking on the other end.
  • “Fake news on him being off with his 3-point shooting.” All-time call from Jim Paschke after Mills hit a third quarter triple.
  • Bobby Portis was getting burned in this one defensively, with the Spurs running easy ball screens near the paint leading to easy bounce passes on the backside for a finish. Really rough stuff, compounded by the fact he couldn’t buy a bucked offensively. There was something storybook-esque about him suddenly looking like an MVP against the Spurs bench squad in the final few garbage minutes.
  • Bud successfully challenged an offensive foul call in the fourth quarter, giving Giannis an and-one opportunity instead.

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