The Milwaukee Bucks couldn’t find any shooting or defensive rhythm in this matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, as Taylor Jenkins team took it to the defending champs, 102-127. Both teams started off the game physically, battering one another as Memphis took a 32-28 advantage following the first period. Milwaukee couldn’t find any semblance of offensive rhythm in the first half, featuring plenty of missed opportunities against stingy Memphis D at the rim as they fell behind 46-59 at halftime. Despite their best offensive quarter of the game thus far in the third, the Bucks defense faltered as Memphis advanced to a 98-79 lead after three. Milwaukee never found any rhythm in the fourth either, as Bud gave some of his stars a chance to rest for the final few minutes and the Grizzlies pulled away.
Giannis looked frustrated around the rim in the first half. It wasn’t just the bevy of arms and contact that Memphis levied his way throughout the game, but he was also just missing bunnies throughout the first half that were entirely uncharacteristic. Thankfully, he was able to brute force his way through the Grizzlies in the second half, but they still did a solid job of throwing as many bodies as possible at the Bucks superstar at the rim. A few years ago I remember thinking Jaren Jackson Jr. guarded Giannis as well as almost anyone I could recall, so good on him for being able to re-find that defensive intensity this season. It’s also a credit to Giannis that he felt off all night and still ended with 30 points, 11 rebounds and four assists on 20 shots.
Milwaukee couldn’t control the defensive glass. Memphis is known for its size inside and relentlessness attacking the rim, and they bullied the Bucks over and over. It wasn’t always just Milwaukee not properly boxing out and taking care of business, occasionally the ball genuinely bounced off of knees and hands out of bounds as they tried to get ready and bring it upcourt. It goes against one of Bud’s core tenets, and Milwaukee tried to occasionally go smaller with just Giannis, and with no Serge, there wasn’t the strength to match what Memphis brought over and over. Memphis posted a 34.5% OREB rate and won in second chance points, 22-7.
Jevon Carter looked good again. I’m struggling for a third three pointer here folks, the Bucks just clearly didn’t have it in this one and the Grizzlies brought whatever extra crazy energy they bring to every outing. Carter hit a few triples, but was about the second most consistent offensive threat as he had some pull-up midrange jumpers working for him. I can’t say those are going to be shots that I’d love to see come Playoff time, but kudos to him for continuing to thrive within his new role on the Bucks. He had nine points on five shots.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- George Hill got the starting nod in place of Jrue Holiday for this one, who rested with an injury.
- Khris Middleton was aggressive from tip driving to the rack against the Grizzlies, and few plays were prettier than a crossover-spin move combo he pulled on Dillon Brooks from atop the arc near the start of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, he faded as the game went on and ended with just 5-16 shooting and 16 points with five turnovers.
- I had totally forgotten that the Bucks last game in Memphis this past preseason ended after the third quarter when a fire alarm went off and fans escorted the arena. Thanks to Zora for reminding me of that with her sideline report.
- Bud went with a smaller lineup to start the second period, with Bobby at the center and Wes Matthews asked to matchup with Jaren Jackson Jr. Credit to him for working dog-hard on a Jackson post-up and stealing the entry pass when it finally made its way in. We talk a lot about Matthews being better at guarding down positions than up, but he showed some mettle in this one.
- The Milwaukee Bucks couldn’t make shots in the first half, but it didn’t help that their offensive rhythm was so frequently interrupted by off-target bounce passes and frequent deflections by the Memphis Grizzlies in their halfcourt defense.
- Milwaukee started the third quarter trying to get some baskets earlier in the shot clock, and Giannis set up a really wonderful impromptu side pick-and-roll with George Hill who laid a thumping screen on JJJ to let Giannis slink baseline for a score.
- Bobby Portis looked as off as I’ve seen him in some time. He had multiple airballs in this one, quite out of character for him. He shot 2-13 from the field.
- One of the reasons some pundits said the Grizzlies made the Grayson Allen trade was to free up more playing time for the likes of Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton. Melton went off for 24 on just 11 shots.