The first quarter was the only one worth watching for Bucks fans, and it was surely fun to witness. The Bucks came out hungry to stay undefeated as they largely dominated in the first frame of play, including an 11-0 run leading up to the first timeout of the game called by Atlanta at the 7:08 mark. The Buck’s offense kept rolling as they jumped out to a quick 11-point lead, due primarily to the fact they shot 8/11 from deep at the end of the first twelve minutes.
In the second quarter, the Hawks began to turn things around as they shrunk the deficit from 11 to 6 by halftime. With less than three minutes played in the second quarter, the Hawks had outscored the Bucks 10 to 2. With only four minutes played in the frame, the Bucks had only shot 1/7 from the field, and it was a trend that would unfortunately continue.
After the break, things fell apart entirely. Milwaukee was outscored by Atlanta in the final two frames to the tune of 25 points. The Bucks were playing uncharacteristically sloppy ball, coughing up way too many turnovers and missing wide-open looks. All of this was happening (or not happening) while the Hawks were hustling, hounding, and taking advantage of an engaged, loud home crowd in State Farm Arena.
Giannis led the Bucks with 25 points, but only had 7 boards. His lowest rebounding numbers to date this season were because of the aggressive rebounding by the Hawks, as they pursued each and every loose ball. Jrue Holiday added 16 points and 7 assists in the loss.
Dejounte Murray had an impressive double-double racking up 25 points and 11 assists, but perhaps the stand-out performance for the Hawks was rookie AJ Griffin who scored 24 points off the bench.
Milwaukee didn’t take care of the ball. With an unsettling 18 turnovers in this game, the Bucks simply didn’t take care of the rock. Jrue Holiday had 8 all by himself, and when combined with Giannis’ 5, the two of them had more turnovers than the entire Hawks team. Giannis is only averaging 3.1 TOs/game this season, and Jrue is only averaging 2.3 giveaways. So either something was off communication-wise, or the Hawks simply beat them with extremely attentive defense.
The deep ball is a streaky ball. After starting the game shooting 8 of 11 from deep, the shooting touch seemed to leave the hands of the Bucks’ players. For the first half, the Bucks had a solid stat line of 11 of 23 shooting the three, but then in the second half, Milwaukee only made 2 of 17. As a team, they ended the game 13-40 (or 32.5%) from the 3-point line. In my opinion, this wasn’t because of increased defensive attention on the perimeter by the Hawks, because the Bucks got many, MANY wide-open looks that simply didn’t fall.
The Hawks successfully stopped Giannis by committee. It’s weird to say that Giannis was “stopped” after scoring 25 points, but to be completely honest with you, any team that can hold Giannis to 25 points on 45% shooting and only sends him to the line for a total of 8 free-throw attempts has done. their. job. Giannis is averaging 55% from the field this season and nearly 13 FTA/game. The Hawks cut that number down, effectively nullifying the largest threat the NBA has to offer. And it wasn’t just a single lock-down defender who had his way with the Greek Freak (as if!), it was multiple Hawks players who successfully made his night more difficult than any other thus far this season. This is also in part because Giannis is starting to get more respect from opponents when he goes up for a jumpshot. Just take a look at his shot chart from the game.
The chart pretty much speaks for itself. The Hawks weren’t letting him have easy looks from outside the restricted area, and it showed.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Jevon Carter continues to be a dog. His endless Energizer Battery allows him to pick up guys full court for the entire game. This is NOT easy to do. The amount of hustle, endurance, and “no-quit” you have to have to run the length of the court time and time again is not a low amount. This resulted in him earning 2 steals and 3 blocks while only picking up 2 fouls. His brand of defense is the Bucks’ brand of defense.
- Brook Lopez shot 3 of 7 from deep last night, and his 3P% sits at 37.5% on the season, which is a good two percent above league average. Despite the loss, these are numbers that should make fans very happy: a 7’0’’ center who not only is an elite defender in the paint but can punish teams from the outside on any given night.
- On an aggressive drive to the rack, Holiday landed lopsided on his feet as multiple Hawks defenders collapsed on him. He got up quickly on his own (thankfully) and attempted to walk it off. He stayed in the game for a bit, but Bud subbed him out at the next dead ball. He checked back into the game in the fourth but appeared to be favoring his leg a bit. All we can do is hope that nothing serious happened on that play. Jrue is a vital part of this team, and they need him to succeed.
- It always sucks to lose. It leaves a rancid taste in your mouth and can send you plummeting into a dark void of shoulda-woulda-couldas. But keep in mind that the Bucks still have the best record in the NBA, DESPITE the loss. They started the season 9-0 without their second-best player (what’s good, Khash Money?!), Pat Connaughton, and their (hopefully) impactful off-season pickup Joe Ingles. In the interest of transparency, I predicted the Bucks would’ve had a rough start to the season, given all of those absences from our lineup. But they’ve proven me wrong and shown that they can win without all of the pieces in place. And once all of those pieces line up, are healthy, and are ready to ball...that’s when the fun will really begin.