clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Milwaukee Bucks Weekly Wednesday Wrap-up

Undefeated. Never lost.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Purple jerseys, black jerseys, this week truly had it all as the Milwaukee Bucks continued their quest for a perfect 82-0 season. Despite some bumps, they’ve emerged victorious time and again in crunch time without one of their clutchest clutch time scorers available, but inching closer. Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to do gobsmacking things on the court and Jrue Holiday shrugged off his offensive slump. It’s a good time to be a Bucks fan, let’s wrap-up.

The Week That Was

Win, win, win, win. A shellacking of Brooklyn kicked off a week of W’s, as the Nets find themselves embattled, embroiled in controversy, whatever journalism term you want to choose works here. Milwaukee completed the New York sweep with a win over the Knicks and then revenge for Abu Dhabi with a Saturday win over the Hawks. The Detroit Pistons are full of enjoyable players, a first in quite some time, and doled out all the Bucks could handle Monday.

Weekly Wondering

We’re only two weeks into the year, but already we’re seeing Milwaukee’s “new” math game work as well as Bud could’ve hoped. They’re ranked in the top-five in terms of fewest shots allowed at the rim and from beyond the arc, a stark difference from their stance the last few years beyond the arc. Here’s the usual frequency breakdown in terms of shots allowed location per Cleaning The Glass from last year compared to thus far:

Opponent Shot Frequency by Location

Location 2022-23 2021-22
Location 2022-23 2021-22
eFG% 48% (1st) 54% (20th)
Rim 30.6% (5th) 28.6% (5th)
Short Mid 22.5% (24th) 18.6% (6th)
Long Mid 16.4% (29th) 11% (24th)
All Mid 38.9% (29th) 29.6% (10th)
Corner Three 4% (1st) 9.6% (19th)
Non Corner 26.5% (14th) 32.2% (30th)
All Three 30.4% (1st) 41.8% (29th)

Teams are rarely ever shooting from the corner against them, and barely ever above the arc. Now, they are benefiting from a tiny bit of shooting luck, as teams are 26% from the corner (39% is league average) and shooting just 34% from midrange (41% is average). However, some of the latter can definitely be chocked up to the difficulties that teams have getting floaters to land over the outstretched arms of Brook Lopez.

Meanwhile, while teams are taking the least efficient shots in the league against the Bucks, they are continuing their usual shot diet on the offensive end. They’re top-ten in terms of 3-point frequency, middle of the pack at the rim and a tad higher than usual from long midrange. Here’s what should scare teams at the moment though.

This is Milwaukee’s offensive shot accuracy by location, per Cleaning The Glass. Outside of their usual decimation at the rim, they’re bottom-ten in terms of percentage literally everywhere else. And still, they’re 6-0.

How?

They’re doing the usual Bud stuff. They’re top-ten in terms of defensive rebounding and opponent free throw rate; refusing to give extra possessions and easy points. They’re top-ten in terms of offensive rebounding and turnovers, valuing their own possessions and securing freebies with their big bodies down low. And of course opponents are hitting the lowest eFG% against them in the league.

But taking out the higher volume of three-pointers is really the crucial new variable in this formula. Given the variability of three-point percentage, we saw many times the last few years where Milwaukee were subject to the whims of a high-volume, hot-shooting night for random teams that might propel them past the Bucks. Now, even on a stellar shooting night for a team like the Hawks, who hit 44% of their threes, they shouldn’t have nearly the same opportunity to pile on points with fewer chances from beyond the arc.

Currently, Milwaukee is at a 100.25 pace for the year, slightly down from their 100.59 pace last season.

Despite those similarities though, the Bucks have already held four opponents under 30 total 3PA this season. They did that only three times the entirety of last season.

Whatever spurred Bud to make the defensive adjustments this season, it’s paying off in spades for the best defensive team in the league. Sitting pretty locking up wins with horrific shooting thus far? Sounds like the Bucks are in Playoff mode already.

Play of the Week

A highlight week means plenty of plays to pick from throughout the crop. While Giannis posted a parade of unbelievable left-handed slams, I wanted to pick some slightly less heralded sequences including misses. Here are the plays that stood out to me:

Brook Blocks Both

We rightly give Brook his kudos, and he deserves plenty of it for his block prowess thus far this season. Here’s a prime example of how much of a defensive maestro he is in the two-man game against the pick-and-roll. Brunson easily gets a step on Carter after Robinson’s screen, and Lopez starts basically by meeting at the free throw line. From there it’s a ballet between him and Brunson as he keeps one hand prepared to step out and block the floater and the other trying to keep within spitting distance of a rolling Robinson. By the time Brunson makes his decision, backpedaling Brook is more than prepared to steal the oop from the air before it can even make it to Robinson. Bravo.

Dual of the Screening Fates

I enjoy this sequence because there’s a whole lot of misdirection going on from the weakside, between Giannis casually strolling to the right block and Bobby Portis flashing to the top of the arc. Nearly simultaneous screens take place, with Carter setting a screen on Hartenstein, freeing up Giannis to flash for Jrue on the left block. Meanwhile, Brook has blocked off Cam Reddish from Portis, who gives Holiday another option to switch the floor if Derrick Rose doesn’t take his eyes off Giannis. Instead, Holiday flips the pass down before Hartenstein can get into the passing lane and Giannis quickly catches, gathers and slams it home.

Behind the Back to Brook

Brook Lopez had this three-point game going this week, so it’s only fitting we point out the prettiest sequence to reach him. It all starts with the Giannis-Jrue pick-and-roll, as Carter’s man leaves him along the baseline to stop Antetokounmpo as he gathers the pass around the free throw line. He pauses, finds the crease in the defense on a beautiful tight-space bounce pass and in one motion Carter gets the ball behind his back to Brook’s shooting pocket for a swish.

Motherf*%&)! did not know I could pass

This one may seem kind of routine, but Giannis makes the ridiculous look routine. He gets the ball on the block from Wes, who makes a looping motion before flushing out back to the left corner when Giannis makes his move across the lane. As Antetokounmpo makes his dribble, he is effectively triple-teamed by the Hawks. Once he gathers and hops in the air (always a no-no for most players), he knows Matthews will head to the corner and tosses a high-arcing, one-handed pass OVER Hunter’s arm, OVER the wingspan of Okongwu and lands a picture-perfect pass in Wes’s hands for a shot.

Weakside Action Schmeakside Action

This one’s funny. We always ask for all this weakside action and motion to be incorporated in the offense so that the defense has more to worry about than just isolation or what’s happening on the strong side. This one is mostly just players vacating the strong side, Hill leaves it, ambles around a pseudo Brook screen and Carter flies up from the corner while Giannis and Grayson do their PnR thing. But if you look at this sequence, basically all five defender’s eyes are laser-focused on Giannis the entire time. It doesn’t matter though, he just swerves past Rose for what’s normally an easy lay-in for him.

Poll

Nov. 2: The Play of the Week is...

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Brook Blocks Both
    (28 votes)
  • 9%
    Dual of the Screening Fates
    (9 votes)
  • 53%
    Behind the Back to Brook
    (53 votes)
  • 8%
    Motherf*%&)! did not know I could pass
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    Weakside Action Schmeakside Action
    (2 votes)
100 votes total Vote Now

That’ll do it for another wrap-up!