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Milwaukee vs. Boston: The Ghost of Playoffs Past

Losing on Xmas is a real bummer

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks are stumbling and bumbling after another loss, with the Boston Celtics using knockdown jump shooting to knock off Bud’s team 139-118. They’ve got some get-right games coming up that will hopefully wipe the stink of this one from our memories.

Boston got off to an early lead behind fiery hot shooting beyond the arc, with eight 3-pointers helping them lead 36-28 after one. Despite a half where seemingly every Bucks bucket seemed much more laborsome than the Celtics, they managed to make it close trailing only 62-61 even with 10 turnovers. Jayson Tatum started going nuclear in the third, and while Pat Connaughton did his best to keep Milwaukee in it, they couldn’t crawl into the lead and trailed 86-100 after three. The fourth didn’t get any rosier though, with Boston’s shooting propelling them to a Christmas victory while the Bucks have two days off to grapple with their third straight loss.

Three Pointers

Giannis had his jumper going early, but not much else. Getting stonewalled by Grant Williams in the first half, he was able to hit those free throw line jumpers that have been evading him all year. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find his usual rhythm inside the arc against the Celtics. As is his usual routine, he made a late push in the fourth quarter on the scoring front and ended with 27 points but it came on 22 shots.

Pat Connaughton looked like Pat Connaughton. If you want a silver lining from this game, seeing Pat knock down triples (After a few early misses) and muster up a looping drive to the basket with a contested finish sure made him look more like the player we had gotten used to over the years. If the Bucks are going to find the rhythm that’s left them lately and return to their championship form, they’re gonna need Connaughton to return to form as well. This was a solid first step in that direction. He had 15 on 5-9 shooting.

The defense has gotta find its footing again. Yup, I know that this was probably some level of an outlier shooting performance for the Celts going 19-39, but there are still some clear deficiencies with this team they gotta clean up after their early season success on that end. Teams are taking advantage of them in transition off turnovers, and Boston making 16-18 at the rim is very un-Milwaukee like. It was partially a credit to some tough finishes, but they also need to find ways for their “lid on the rim within the paint” practice under Bud remains somewhat intact even when teams start to make Lopez defend a bit more in space. There was also no Khris Middleton, but this game again showed the need for some size on the wing with Tatum and Brown able to get off shots over the likes of Allen and Connaughton. No reason to panic on my end, but certainly some areas to clean up in the ensuing months.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Bud opted to give the hometown kid, Pat Connaughton, the start in Middleton’s place for this Xmas day contest.
  • Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez more than put forth their side of the scoring bargain with 39 points on 22 shots combined.
  • Boston started with Jayson Tatum guarding Brook Lopez, presumably a tactic to help when he inevitably went up for screens. It worked pretty effectively in deterring him from driving and deterred Lopez from easy pick-and-pops. Later in the quarter, he had Brogdon guarding him and immediately found post position for a bucket.
  • Bud stole several minutes in the first quarter without Giannis or Jrue on the floor, with the Bucks able to stay within striking distance.
  • We finally saw some Jingles-Giannis PnR that ended with Joe faking the pass to a rolling Antetokounmpo and going up for an easy lay-in when the defense committed. Defensively, the eye test still looks occasionally rough for him against the wings of Boston.
  • Grayson certainly looked committed and determined defensively in this one, and his driving led to some decent looks (and at least a turnover) for Milwaukee. In the second half though, you definitely saw Tatum targeting and getting the best of him despite a game attempt from Grayson. Given all the guff he took this offseason for his performance last year against this team, this still felt encouraging.
  • Jaylen Brown got a kinda-BS foul call at the end of the first half for three free throws…and proceeded to miss every one. BDL.
  • Late in the third, Milwaukee went all-switching on defense with no Lopez on the floor. Unfortunately, it didn’t do enough to slow down Boston, and they also capitalized in transition several times in much the same way a few recent Bucks opponents have that toppled them.
  • Giannis got a technical late in this one after an unfriendly tap from Jaylen Brown on him and he got up and shoulder shoved him.